Droughts, Floods and Deaths: What if the End is Always Happening? – 09/04/2022

Droughts, Floods and Deaths: What if the End is Always Happening? – 09/04/2022
Droughts, Floods and Deaths: What if the End is Always Happening? – 09/04/2022

The environment is almost absent from the election debate. The partisan clash hijacked the conversation. It may seem like it’s a conflict between destruction and regeneration, but is it really? To me, the options sound more like the question, “Continue rampant destruction or go back to the usual, business-as-usual destruction?”

Regenerative models for the economy, politics, or social organization are not even discussed in broader public debate, let alone in traditional politics. We seem to have reached a point where every effort is focused on simply mitigating the disaster a little — in the best-case scenario, things should get a little less worse.

Of course I agree that we live in a political emergency and this needs to be fixed as soon as possible. But I’m a little skeptical about traditional politics. Even the havens of collective well-being — like the Nordic countries where social democracy has taken hold — live under the ticking time bomb of socio-environmental collapse and various other interconnected problems.

Most past generations imagined it to be the last. We are no exception. Today it really seems that we have reached a self-destructive climax. Created by a group of scientists 75 years ago, the “end of the world clock” has never been closer to midnight: since 2020, it reads 23:58:20.

I don’t want to mitigate the current threats, but one idea that’s been sticking with me is, “What if the end is always happening?”

Indigenous people have been experiencing a “end of the world” since the arrival of the colonizers. This week, the last representative of an indigenous culture, who had alone survived the murder, by ranchers, of the last members of their people in 1995, died.

More and more common are apocalyptic scenarios also caused by climate change, such as what is happening in
East Africa ravaged by a murderous drought, or Pakistan sinking in floods.

The threat of the end, the constant degeneration, seems to be part of the way our societies are covertly organized. This is hidden because it is usually not seen. So the acute recognition of this condition could collectively direct us to what is really important, just as when we are individually confronted with the end: in the end, what really matters are people, beings, life itself.

But we go on as if everything is guaranteed, as if we have all the time in the world, everything is fine, without any devastation.
Knowing how to see the end is a kind of wisdom that could also be applied in a wide sphere. Collective recognition of these constant threats would result in action focused on what really matters. For example, protecting life is more important than ensuring economic growth that, in the end, really only benefits a tiny number of privileged people.

I know this is controversial, because those who defend GDP growth above all else believe that this is the best way to guarantee general well-being. This may seem sensible, but this idea has been applied politically for decades and, overall, where is the improvement? Cell phones and electronics define quality of life?

So a central factor preventing problem recognition and redefining priorities is the idea that everything is fine as it is; in the end, this would ensure the general well-being.

Nobody really likes to hear about degradation and end, but there is this positive aspect of regenerative reorientation, which ends up being discarded when the problem is thus denied. It’s like the example of addiction. There is only a possibility of cure if there is the self-recognition of the addiction, of the fact that the thing has gone completely out of control, towards accelerated degradation.

It’s not intentional, but several of the articles I write here end up coming to that same conclusion.

We are wandering like sleepwalkers, slowly crawling into the abyss. Collectively, we have failed as a civilization or a species — despite all human achievements, the damage to life we ​​do as societies is even greater. As long as we think that these are all just accidents along the way—which, in the end, will all be resolved—there is no chance of a solution.

In the end, the same kind of individual wisdom that results in a fulfilling life could guide collective, governmental, corporate, and other actions.
The accumulation of material goods is not an end. These things all pass, but they leave a trail of destruction. Fixation on them creates and prolongs immense suffering. At the end of life, that’s not what makes you feel like it was worth it.

What’s worth it are meaningful and beneficial connections with those we love. And “whom we love” doesn’t have to be restricted to relatives and friends. The larger this circle, the greater the benefit not only to you; ideally, it could extend to a lifetime or existence.


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Droughts Floods Deaths Happening

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