Thursday, January 26, 2017

Doomsday Thinking

I've sort of been staying away from the big issues here on the ol' blog. I've touched on politics here and there, but every morning when I get up and make my coffee and sit down to write my daily post, the idea of taking on the world's political and social scene just seems too huge and overwhelming. So normally, you get another post about Olga.

But yesterday I read Mary Moon's excellent post about what to do post-Trump, and she captured so well exactly what I've been feeling -- the sense of bewilderment and helplessness about our nation's direction and what to do about it. Coincidentally I was talking about this same subject with my coworkers yesterday, too. I think all of us are left, in the wake of the global anti-Trump demonstrations, wondering what our next steps should be.

Like Mary, I think writing to our Congresspeople is utterly useless. They are so entrenched and tied to their partisan agendas that, frankly, they couldn't care less what we think. I doubt those letters even get read. I think it IS important to resist when we can, to add texture to the history of this period as it's being written -- to show that not everyone was happy during this time of transformation.

What creates real despair in me is the thought of what will happen to the things we cannot replace -- mostly the animals and plants and ecosystems of the planet, which will suffer irreparable harm over the next few decades as a direct result of the dismantling of environmental regulations and falling back on our consumption of fossil fuels. I have a friend who works on coral reef research, and I shudder to think what the fate of the world's reefs will be when we simply throw in the towel on controlling global warming. I think about the elephants and giraffes that I've seen wild in Botswana, the lemurs I've seen in Madagascar, their populations all declining slowly or rapidly in the face of human domination.

And this is kind of where I run off the rails, because now I'm leaving Trump behind and entering the apocalyptic mindset that comes from thinking about issues like overpopulation and the fact that we're living in a time of relatively abundant resources -- a "resource bubble" -- and that bubble is going to burst at some point. It has to. Nothing lasts forever. I may not be around to see it, but it will happen. And then we'll see some serious misery.

Trump, and Brexit, too, are symptoms of this greater, core problem -- the world's resources, their unfair distribution and the fact that they are ultimately finite. Wealthier populations are closing their doors, building walls and protecting their own.

Remember that book I read a couple of years ago -- "10 Billion"? And the author's conclusion? "I think we're fucked." That's pretty much my conclusion, too.

But I'll also admit I don't know for sure what the future will bring, and I could be entirely wrong. Perhaps humanity will somehow magically move beyond its tendency to think in the short-term, to think about our own needs and comforts to the exclusion of all else.

I'm trying to be Zen about this situation -- both the immediate political situation and the larger, global one. I take each day as it comes, moment by moment, and try to live within that moment as fully as possible. Participate in it, and if that means participating in a movement of protest, then be there for that. Do my part. Recycle. And if it means simply enduring -- and there's going to be a lot of enduring in the coming years -- then endure. Donate to organizations that can effectively fight Trump in the courts, but also live each day. Walk the dog, because the dog is real and here.

See? Even this post is about Olga!

(Photo: An abandoned Santa mitten on a fence in West Hampstead.)


Steve Reed said...

I realize, rereading this post, that my overall pessimism conflicts a bit with the shorter-term optimism I've expressed that we will move past Trump and the pendulum will swing back the other way. Once voters understand that Trump can't deliver on his promises or that they won't bring the expected results, they are sure to turn against him. Whether they will turn against right-wing protectionism and xenophobia I'm not sure, but I do tend to think we are growing more just, in fits and starts, as a global population. Will that be enough to save us in the long run? I admit skepticism!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Humanity is incapable of changing direction. We are like a big ocean liner heading for the rocks and the thing is - there is no benevolent deity watching over us, we are on our own. I have the feeling that we are heading for another world war - the likes of which we will not have seen before. Sorry for being so cheerful!

Elle Clancy said...

I echo Y.P. in the sense that I think Trump is so inept that he will cause real problems in political/military conflicts. And then our children, and the children of others around the world, will die b/c of it.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day, I think. The wall news; the restrictions on science/funding for research he's already begun; the wiping of any news of climate change. (The list is endless.) It truly saddens me. But it also enrages me, and I think rage wins out every time. Onward, in any way you can.

Shooting Parrots said...

It is simple enough for Trump to sign executive orders but whether they can be implemented or whether they succeed even if they are remains to be seen. Our greatest problem is the schism that has grown between left and right, liberal and conservative. Such political polarisation is a serious threat to social stability is neither side can agree on what the problems are or how to fix them.

Ms. Moon said...

I suppose that each of us has unique talents and tendencies which suit us best as to how to proceed. Some of us are natural fighters. Some of us naturally are not.
I have no idea.
I feel confused and anchor-less. I feel fearful and angry. And I really don't know how to channel those into anything constructive.

Sabine said...

I could be right there with you Steve, and mostly I am. That trump geezer is almost a distraction in the bigger scenario. Oh, he is dangerous all right but he is also an idiot and a poorly organised conman. People will realise this eventually.

But climate change is the real issue that floors me and I break out in a cold sweat when I think of the lives of the future generations.

We have introduced so many life style changes in response to climate change, I sometimes think we have completely reinvented ourselves. And yet . . . I feel at a loss.

Still, here are two inspiring videos from two amazing organisations (Story of Stuff, gapminder) to cheer you up a bit:

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I've decided that what's important for me is to continue to work on local issues --primarily affordable housing--as well as pick a national/global issue and stay focused on it (that would be climate change for me). You can't do everything, but you can do a few small things well.

I also think our energy is not wasted when we seek to be friends with people who hold different views from our own. Not white nationalists necessarily, but the guy who changes the oil in your car, or the crotchety cousin who thinks it's God's will that Donald Trump is president of the U.S. We don't have to try to convert anyone, but I've seen love and good will change a mind or two over time. Hate changes pretty much nothing.

Sharon said...

I went over to read Ms. Moon's post and it brought tears to my eyes. She has expressed exactly how I feel...bewildered and helpless. Seeing all those comments here and on her site from so many like minded people makes me feel a tiny bit better. I'm going to start writing to my representatives on a regular basis. I know it's pointless for the most part but, I want to be on record. Plus, if enough of us do it often enough, it will be noticed. Thanks for a very thought provoking post.

Allison said...

I have nothing to add except more pessimism. Wyoming wants to pass a law requiring their power generation stations to use coal, instead of wind or solar. What the hell? When did governments become so stupid? When did America become so stupid as to elect this man for President. I've long suspected Western civilization was going down the tubes, but I really thought it would survive until my death. Now I am not so sure.

Red said...

We can only hope that enough people see that serious effort has to be made to stop global warming. However, by the time people realize that harm is being done it might be too late.

ellen abbott said...

resist. that's about all we can do. all those things you said, yes. as far as humanity is concerned, I think we will be one of the least successful lifeforms this planet has produced in terms of how long we exist. especially since we are hell bent to destroy the very air, water, and earth we need to survive.

Linda Sue said...

yes, what Ellen said. And so, do what you can and love what you do , resist. We are pretty much fucked.

jenny_o said...

This quote may be of interest:
“In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.” Alistair Cooke

Pretty much the same conclusion you had got to.

Remember, too, that eventually the sun will flame out and there will be no more earth. That's a really long-range way of looking at it, but it helps to keep me grounded.

Rafe's Hotel said...

Respectfully, I'd like to disagree on one thing. Writing/calling congressmen and women is useful right now and requires very little time. The reason is that in two years, they all come up for reelection, so they are or will be more aware of what their constituencies think. With senators who are safe for six years, I agree -- they may not read, but even so, numbers are counted. It's like documenting a bad employee, if nothing else; they can't say they weren't told that the people who vote are not pleased, and voices mount up. One ploy to watch out for: full voice mails and inboxes. Bernie Sanders says to let him know whenever that happens, as it is a common dodge.

Conversely, those who are trying to defend what we hold dear need to hear that we agree with them. I'm very fortunate to have a congressman who allows me to say, "Term limits? No way." He has publicly thanked us for our support in the day to day fight.

Sorry, didn't mean to rant, but as Dan Rather says, these are extraordinary times. Like everyone else, I'm going to do my best to inject more kindness and compassion into every day, and hopefully contribute to local change. But damn, and as one sign said at the DC march, "I can't believe I have to fight this shit all over again." Yup.

Rafe's Hotel said...

I should have added that while I have the luxury of a perfectly lovely congressman, John Yarmuth, I have the world's most godawful senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nothing is easy. McConnell happens to live about a mile away, and thank heavens he hardly ever comes home (that I know of ). If I saw him on the street, neither of us would be safe. :-/ Talk about taking action! Not ...

Alphie Soup said...

I'm with Sharon Anck. Do write to your congressman/men (any women?), if they want to be re-elected they might just pay attention. Maybe go visit them. Anywhere, wherever they are at the time.
And when it comes to coal over wind and solar I suspect Big Money is trumping (sorry, it's a real word...) stupidity.

Oh look, now I'm commenting on the comments as well as the post. I'll stop right here.