I want to tell this story from the perspective of a single character, one who realizes, maybe, the dangers and evils inherent in our current way of life, and changes his ways. But that’s not how this is going to work. That isn’t the nature of this story.
We have always been at war with our mother. Perhaps this is in part, at least, because she refuses to coddle us. The temperatures range from boiling to frozen and every other animal, more or less, would kill us, in one way or another, if we didn’t them first. The Earth is not a safe place. That is not her nature.
But we have built a life here. A society. We have proven ourselves capable of great things. We have tamed or broken every beast we’ve encountered and we have turned almost every natural product into a resource for maintaining our own safety and ultimately comfort.
It is in our nature. We have been suckling at the Earth’s teat, teething on her fingers and wrapping ourselves up in her hair for as long as our species can remember or derive. Anything that was hers, we have taken, not just from her but from each other.
Now there is one of us who owns it all. A single human (actually a small group, but what are numbers?) has amassed almost everything that can be considered wealth and now he is drinking her blood.
He will choke on it.
Some of us are already choking on it. As I sit here writing, there is smoke outside clogging the sky, hiding the sun behidn a veil as though she were modest—or we were. There has been so little rain in this part of the country for so long—a part of the country classified as rainforest, mind you—that there are wildfires along the entire coast, and stretching inland.
“Only you can prevent forest fires!” But I wasn’t even there. Does that make it my fault?
On the other side of the country, they have the opposite trouble. The house that my sister lived in last year ended up under three feet of water. Billions upon billions in property damage, with more still looming. Another hurricane that reads like an earthquake is gathering on the sea, the strongest ever measured, strong enough to level cities if it reaches us. How do we use what nature’s given us to protect us from her wrath?
We have been abusing our power. It is up to us to change it—but what can we do? What can I do? What can one person do to save us from the havoc that mother Nature hath wrought? Is there some savior who can stand in the path of the hurricane? Who can divert the winds and rains to where they are needed? We have no such powers at this time.
It will do us no good to flog the seas for their impetuous tempests. We can scream at the winds all we want to stop stoking the fires, it will still draw them in. But though we are helpless in the face of the cataclysm, yet we are not without blame.
We have been shaping Mother Nature like a sculpture in the rock, but we have delved too deep and she is crashing down on us.
I don’t know who that one man is who ordered this. I don’t even know if he knew what he was ordering. Maybe he unwittingly made a mistake. That would be fine, if he stopped making it. But he keeps making it over and over again. We can blame that man. We should blame that man. He is driven by greed and sheltered by ignorance. But must we not also blame our own complacency?
We, too, have been ignorant. Or perhaps not ignorant. But we have been comfortable in our shells. We have felt safe, we have profited from our safety, even though that safety has come at the highest cost ever measured. We still drive our SUVs. We still use our televisions and computers, powered by fossil fuel plants. We still indulge in plastically manufactured trinkets that we don’t need. If we could only stop, if we could only show that man in his concrete palace that we do not approve, maybe he’d get the message. Maybe he’d stop what he was doing. Or maybe we could divert all our funds, raise someone else up, crown another king of industry—but no. It is too late for that. There is not enough left to go around the old king’s reputation.
What can I do to stop the hurricane? I can’t.
But maybe we can. One man did not cause this. One family did not set this disaster in motion. We did this together and it took centuries of deforestation and fossil fuel burning. We need to fight this together, not with personal sacrifice, not with elimination, not with demonization of the old way of doing things, but with new solutions. Cleaner solutions.
Solutions that he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want them because he cannot control them. He cannot control them because they are too easy for us to construct and manufacture on our own.
Why can’t we do this? Why can’t we work together towards a solution, a rope that will pull us back away from this ledge? Why must we be so selfish that we must blame ourselves and each other, each of us individually, for not choosing to be vegan, for having too many children, for driving to work, for living in the wrong country?
Is it in our Nature?
No. Because we are not Nature. We are Art and we are better than this. Together.