The Consequences of Your Grief
Powering Past Late-Stage Capitalism’s Violation of Our World
Photo: "Wildfire Sun-Bird's Eye View" Credit: Scott Silber
Let’s not only be forced to watch.
A different fate can still be sealed. Organize. Vote. Strike.
Yes, the preventable destruction of a life-sustaining planet is a thing to grieve…
…just before replacing a system of highly concentrated wealth and power that, at any cost, rewards the most abusive psychopathy with ruling class status.
No, this will never be the Earth we knew 40 years ago — when fossil fuels executives and their financiers willfully concealed the price of their profits. They locked away the early scientific proof that, decades later, this disruption of Earth’s capacity to host us would be their legacy. They envisioned the fire. They saw the droughts in obtuse contrast to the floods. They looked at the extreme weather event forecasts. They foresaw the substitution of air with poison gas, and they sang their lullaby’s refrain, “Don’t take it personally. It’s just business.” After all, it was their own business that first confirmed that they would be the harbingers of the 6th Great Mass Extinction. It would be all worth it in stock value.
Like corporate oracles, they saw the future they would bring, and they locked it away for their children’s children to find under ashes, and read in rusty sunlight, between breaths sucked from filters made for war. Remember, though, that the difference between a massacre and a war is that the massacred have no way to prevent the onslaught.
Never mind that you were not likely born to sleepwalk a billion more species to a thousand more mass graves lined with corpses of our grandchildren and the history of the world’s working poor. You are not to be among the massacred forced to feed your murderers.
No, instead, in this stunning twist of irony, you, as it turns out, are their power.
In fact, our votes, our labor, and our consumption are their entire diet. We have the means to starve armies of corporate lawyers and political puppets until they’re far too weak to maximize value for shareholders, until they’re too exhausted to legislate your captivity, until we’ve traded our fatigue and our deep slumber becomes theirs, so that they can finally sleep-off the disease of greed that has filled-up their brains, and heal. And so that we can lie down with our world and all finally get some rest, and heal.
So witness your sky aflame with burning mountaintops, remember the singed flavor of your planet in your nose and throat, and if you’re close enough, listen to that lapping sound of this man-made monster lashing at a ridge — as if the Sun had a whip and it’s time to pay up — and feel what it feels like to be confined, pillaged, and forced to watch.
Because this is more than enough.
This is more than enough to power a loving heart the size of a fist to choose the alternative to massacre.
Like all light, like all energy, like all mass, the power of this devastation can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred, taken, or distributed. It’s as if the wall between those that seem powerful and those that seem powerless is a dam that holds back a reservoir of our sorrow. Maybe that was the case for a generation who couldn’t imagine we’d all be under attack by the lies of 1980s Exxon executives. Yet, there’s only so much sadness that can generate all the power for a society that runs on consumption as self-medicating.
Instead, don’t forget your pain.
Don’t forget the feeling of the world’s worst oil catastrophe losing its champion title to the next even worse one.
Don’t forget the new records set, year after year for millions of acres of forest turned into the atmospheric carbon they were supposed to be absorbing.
Don’t forget that unthinkably high number of species you’ve learned are made extinct by greed everyday.
It’s important to remember the human blindness caused by the disease of wealth and power addiction. Why? Because, after you’ve caught every drop of grief you need to collect, the floodgates will bust open. Sometime later they’ll be found next to the rusted-out turbine that once churned out power from tears that finally broke a really old dam.