This is part II in a series of posts that come from thinking on how we often use the word “we.” In particular, it came from many readings of Derrick Jensen’s essay “Beyond Hope” in Orion Magazine and wondering, “Who are we? How do we find meaning?” You can read Part I here.
II. We. Us.
Part of the sense of despair I feel comes from pervasive miseducation and ignorance despite easy-to-access information showing the state of the human-biosphere relationship. Sometimes I’ve felt like around us, people are asleep, dreaming they are in a world different from the one in which they live. It’s like being Neo in The Matrix after Morpheus has given him the red pill except that I’m not a super hero. I can just see. [All of this said understanding fully well that he lives in a simulation. I’ll avoid going down that rabbit hole.]
I do not know someone who has looked at these problems, felt them, and avoided despair. In Ecclesiastes, the author says, “All is vanity and grasping at the wind.” Read in desolate terms, the ecological crises breaks hearts, crushes wills, and makes the possibility of doing real good seem useless. Acting for the whole in the industrial and post-industrial society seem like so much grasping at the wind. Even worse, it might feel like we have created our own deluge. Perhaps a very few incredibly resourceful humans will build arks to survive the rising seas and save some species to repopulate the world in the wake of our own transgressions against the Creation.
That world, though different, will be shared by people and other creatures; a world of potential good. It is a world worth engendering as real and one that requires patient work now, knowing that you or I will only be where we are, that the shadow of the future is not here. It is unknowable. But if we do careful work with tools at hand and better tools to come, we will birth good things, strong things, beautiful things.
Utopian? Maybe. But what vision of the future made with positive vision is not utopian? The most powerful alternatives to a convivial future are so dystopian as to engender nihilism. Are we, to paraphrase Revocation’s “Tragedy of Modern Ages,” to become silent wraiths in the wreckage of past nations ringed by colossal metal-beamed derelicts, synthetic dreams, spiraling and distorted affluence, evolutionary traps, and binding self-involved brilliance? Will they lead us to our ruin? I don’t want a Terminator, Matrix, or Blade Runner future.
We. Us. We are becoming future all the time.