Then read this essay by Megan Mayhew Bergman.
I want to be hopeful. On good days, I go to 350.org and am heartened by their belief that we can make large-scale changes in the human activity that results in global warming. Not that we can, but we will. But most days, I don’t think we’re going to save this planet. I don’t think, as humans, we’re going to do the right thing. Is that constructive to say? No. Is it subscribing to the very unhelpful school of shaming the enemy, even if that enemy is yourself? Yes. But if I knock the moral sieve out of the way and give it to you straight, that’s what keeps me up at night. Our inevitable failure.
I don’t know how she got inside my head. This is how I feel, down to the letter, with the one major difference that she has small children whereas I don’t even have kids yet. How do I even begin to think about bringing new lives into this world?
When it comes to fat activism, I feel like I can make a difference. Even just putting pictures of myself on the internet, pictures of myself being fat and happy and fabulous, can be radical in its own small way.
But climate change? It’s huge, and all-encompassing, and terrifying. It makes everything else feel meaningless.
I don’t have the guts (or the financial stability, but mostly the guts) to devote my life to it. To chain myself to other activists like the Westboro 8, or lock myself to a piece of heavy machinery like a grandmother from Oklahoma. I admire the hell out of them from a distance. I go to 350 meetings, I do my little bits of activism, and I distract myself.
I don’t know how I’d get through the day if I didn’t distract myself. I don’t know how I’d stay sane.
Deep down, I’m terrified.
And, unlike my various irrational anxieties, I know that this terror is real. This terror is justified. I don’t think there’s any way to quell it without going completely into denial.
How can we build good lives atop this undercurrent of panic? How can we keep hoping in the face of overwhelming odds, while our government twiddles its fingers?
How do we live well and justly in this world when there’s a very real chance that it’s just too late?
I wish I had answers.
I wish there were answers.