What If We Survive?
Words by Charles Eisentein
It’s not your imagination that there is less bug splatter on the window than when you were a kid. My father said there used to be clouds of insects. We would have to turn on our windshield wipers sometimes driving at night.
And there are other books too that bring up these accounts from the first Europeans to come to North America of just how abundant life was. We look out today and if we see a pod of whales that is pretty exciting. But there are accounts of looking out and seeing thousands of whales, whose spume filled the air with mist, of oysters a foot across in the Chesapeake Bay, of going fishing by putting a bare hook and catch a fish in seconds, of horses going through the brush and their bellies stain with the berries, like that amount of wealth.
This depletion of life - J.B. Mackinnon calls it a ten percent world.
And what if a 10% world becomes a 1% world in another few hundred years and we continue to survive on a concrete world substituting for all that’s lost with technological substitutes, making oxygen with vats of algae, drawing down the carbon to maintain atmospheric equilibrium with machines, enclosing our cities with bubbles.
What if we could survive in a totally poisoned world if we have the right filters, if we have the hydroponic factories to make the food or vat grown meat?
Do we want the concrete world where nature is dead but its okay because we have VR with content rich experiences and high resolution digital displays of those nature scenes. Is that what we want? Maybe we can do that. Do we want to do that? What world do we want to create?
I can see a more beautiful world, a flourishing world, where the deserts are greening, and the species are coming back, and the oceans are full of fish, and flocks of birds cover the sky. I can see that world and humans living peacefully on it. That world exists, which one are we going to experience in our future? Which one are our great great great grandchildren going to live in?
The dominant narrative that I am hearing today is that we have to change or we aren’t going to survive. We’ve already overshot the ability of Earth’s ecosystem to support human civilization and we better do something about that right away or we are going to have a catastrophe, massive human population collapse, maybe even human extinction.
I would like the conversation to turn away from can we survive? How will we survive? On a personal level, that’s not the goal of life. The goal of life is not to survive it. It’s not to make it to your death bed in tact. The goal of life is to create something beautiful, meaningful, to give your gifts in service to something much bigger than ourselves.
And collectively, we are the same way. We’re not here to survive this. We are here to contribute. We were created by Earth to contribute. We are not an accident. There’s an evolutionary purpose that resides in the gifts that we’ve used to make such a mess. And when we ask why are we here and what world do we want to live in, we reorient those gifts towards that world.
And its so much more empowering to say what world do we choose rather than how do we make it? How do we survive? That is the mindset that has gotten us into trouble. How do we make sure that humanity makes it? Seeing the world as an instrument of some narrow conception of human well being.
There are things that we need to do on earth right now that only make sense if they are part of a mass movement to do those things. They only make sense if we understand ourselves collectively as why we are here right now is to contribute to the healing of the earth. And then you know you are not alone. You know that it is not fruitless. You know you are doing your part.
Every choice that we make, individually and collectively is a kind of declaration of here is who i want to be, here is the world I want to live in. We may not understand on a pragmatic level how that choice is actually going to change things, how taking care of that puppy is going to bring about a more beautiful world, but if that choice is a choice for life, a choice for love, a choice to act on what calls to our care, then it is an aligning action with that healed world that we can sense is possible.
towards that purpose and any other application of those gifts become intolerable.