by Suzanne Hall
I ’m scared. The world seems to have gone crazy, and I am a part of that world. I imagine the world as a moving body that is running towards the edge of a cliff. That cliff is the collapse of systems that we rely upon as a society based on cheap and plentiful oil. That cliff is tipping toward climate instability. That cliff is mass extinction and the collapse of whole ecosystems. I am one cell in the body moving towards that cliff and I am just beginning to know a little bit about where we are headed. How do I make this whole thing change direction?
I’m not going to spend time here explaining why I believe we are headed towards a cliff. If you are reading this you probably know all of the evidence already. What I want to talk about is what do you do with that information once you understand it and the implications of it? What do you do when you realize that pretty soon we won’t be able to drive around the way we do now? What does “pretty soon” mean? Five years? Ten years? We won’t be able to heat our houses the way we do now. We won’t be able to produce food the way we do now. A lot of the basic building blocks of our society won’t work the way they have in the past. I don’t hear much being said about this in the mainstream media. I don’t hear it being approached at a governmental level in any realistic way. So what now?
I imagine the world as a moving body that is running towards the edge of a cliff. That cliff is the collapse of systems that we rely upon as a society based on cheap and plentiful oil. That cliff is tipping toward climate instability.
It wasn’t long ago I thought that the folks in charge knew what they were doing. I figured the problems weren’t really that big. It is easier to rely on leaders and think that they will take care of things. That way if things go wrong I can blame them, right? That way I don’t have to change very much myself. The misbehavior of people with power has become so flagrant that it has become necessary to be schizophrenic to accept their leadership. Claiming ones’ sanity is a large leap and part of it involves claiming responsibility. It’s hard to grow up. As a fledgling, I know that personally.
My dog, Dakota helped me with the first step. He loves going outside for walks. He forced me outside of my own comfort zone and into the world. Outside into the neighborhood. A good morning to my friends and neighbors. How’s the weather? How are your kids? It’s good to realize that there are other human beings out there and that we are in this together. I find it necessary to work from this very basic human level in connecting with other people to find solutions. It’s true that my friends and neighbors don’t all see things the same way I do. I don’t think that I would want them to. We need more than our own narrow perspectives to get a sense of what’s going on and what the answers may be.
The longer I have been out talking to people the more hope I have. I believe that the answer lies in our ability to work together. I don’t mean to make it sound simple. It’s incredibly complex. There is a lot of work to do to creating new systems of energy, transportation, agriculture, etc. that don’t rely on a constant flow of oil. It will take all of our intelligence and faith in each other to get through. But we love our children. We have the capacity to cooperate and support each other to create a future for them.
Suzie is a member of the Alliance steering committee.
(Published in the 2011 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley)
(Essays express the ideas of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alliance.)
More Voices of the Valley from Sustainable Lehigh Valley.