In this neck of the woods, winter was long, dark, and harsh sometimes, so it is wonderful to see the Spring roll out its welcoming green carpet. In the forests, this powerfully tender advance of new life stands in great contrast with the many trees felled, darkened, and hollowed out by age and inclement weather. In the Trumansburg cemetery, a place Kim and I love to visit, old, dilapidated tombstones and plastic flowers provide a similar contrast between life and death.
While culling from this body of work the images I needed for this post, I started to see in them a symbol of a different Spring, a tremendously vivifying force that I have also been observing as it enters the human body/mind at a critical time. I am referring to the still incipient, but already quite strong reaction of some groups of mostly young people to the existential threat posed by humanity’s reckless disruption of the Earth’s ecology. If you are not yet aware of Extinction Rebellion and still have not heard the beatific sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg speak (at the UN and other forums), do yourself a favor and follow the links below.
Greta’s TED talk — www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2QxFM9y0tY
More videos of G.T. talks: www.youtube.com/results?search_query=greta+thunberg+speech+at+the+un
Information about and by Extinction Rebellion: www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Extinction+Rebellion
This incipient movement is like a vivifying rush of new neuronal growth that may well shock the now quite decrepit, and insensitive human brain into reasonable, and therefore caring action. The people who are involved with Extinction Rebellion, most of whom are quite young, are keenly aware of the current ecological situation and the danger it poses to life on Earth, and this allows them to speak with great clarity and to act in a manner that is highly creative and that signals to everyone the urgent need to risk everything in order to safeguard the future of humanity. They seem to know full well that the cultural structures and methods (both secular and religious) presently controlling human affairs are incapable of the caring understanding and effective action that must be deployed if they are to be heirs to a living planet. Our dire situation is eloquent proof of this. Consequently, they are not beholden to any traditional secular or religious ideology or associated with any pre-established organization.
Extinction Rebellion is rapidly spreading to other countries and it intends to go on unmasking, discrediting, and gumming up the general system until due attention is given to their reasonable fear and significant human and material resources are mobilized to deal with the multiple and interrelated social and environmental challenges we are facing. They are children assuming the responsibility of adults, because adults are consistently failing to act as such but, most of all, because they are fully alive and it is their future and the future of their children that hangs in the balance. They simply will not passively accept the montrous fate to which the still on-going cumulative damage done to the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and soil, condemns them. Nor will they be willing contributors to slightly different future versions of the same division, injustice, conflict, and violence human beings have already suffered for millennia.
The mental, social, geopolitical, and ecological disorder in which we live (including the insane multiplication and proliferation of thermonuclear weapons) is clearly posing an existential threat, and a clear perception and thorough understanding of the source and nature of this threat inevitably transforms the mind and heart of any reasonable and caring person.
I was moved to tears by a video showing very young British students chaining themselves to the iron fence of a government building with bicycle locks around their necks. A girl who had thus chained chained herself told the interviewer that she had a little sister for whom she cared very much and who was going to be just as old as she is now by the end of the twelve-year period that scientists have decreed is all the time we have left to avoid a total catastrophe. For her, the necessity of dramatic action her friends and her were taking was obvious. Government officials and the general population must be awakened to the unmitigated disaster that could befall the entire species if we continue being and doing what we have always been and done. Her love and the courage this love animates makes evident to anyone who cares to see the possibility and the power of going beyond toxic self-concern. At its point of incandescence, caring kindles an intelligence that burns off the blind identification with senseless tribal traditions and selfish personal habits and desires that have brought us to the edge of this precipice. This love, and this lucid action is the Spring that multitudes have been waiting for.
This post is dedicated to Kelley Teeter who is a vibrant young mother, wife, friend, and teacher working very hard to give her Ithaca high students the climate science education they will need to defend their right to mature and procreate on a healthy planet. She also endeavors to alert whoever will listen of the vast ecological consequences of an irresponsible life style. Kelley and Josh, her husband, will certainly do whatever is necessary to protect their baby daughter, Evie, from the possibly devastating effects that the current regime of apathy and disinformation could have on her life. I am quite sure that there are millions of young parents everywhere who will be eager to do the same as the truth of the global situation becomes more evident. Let us all help spread the word.
The first of several interpretations given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary to the word “crisis” is also the oldest one: “the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever.” This existential turning point is happening in our lifetime, and though we are certainly very sick, we must do the possible and the impossible to stave off a senseless, still preventable death.
Spring comes to the forest…
…and rolls into the Cemetery