Thus entitled was the April 2020 The Rolling Stone’s issue that featured Greta Thunberg and all things climate change. The children’s issue.
Is it as bad as they claim? It’s worse. From bugapocalypse to acidifying of the oceans to the extinction of a million species. Viruses are only a new expression of climate change and the decimation of the chain of life. It is a wake up call for the profit driven death machinery that political leaders and corporate culture continue to serve. Issues of food and water security loom.
But I know you will stop right here, dear reader, if I continue on this trajectory.
We are a people of hope. We cannot let it lead to hopioid, a false addictive belief, but ultimately to right action in the world. All great social movements have been about ordinary people moving out into the public square. These days our public square is the world wide internet.
A few things are needed for these times. Vitamins for civic life, to keep us robust.
This radiant, shining planet earth and all her inhabitants call us to a deeper affection of place, more than ever, in these 9th hour, ground zero, 21st century Covid time. We will not save what we do not love (Baba Dioum, Senegalese forestry engineer, 1968). The natural world is one of the few places open to humans for solace, peace, life giving joy, in these pandemic times. Foster that love by being with earth in all her myriad forms—from backyard to park to wild places, to night sky.
Geese appear high over us,What we need is here, Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press, 1998)
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
We need a wall of lament for those we love—all our relations who might soon be extinct due to climate change and our carefully protected fossil fuel carbonized lifestyles…
Extinction Rebellion, begun in the U.K. was founded on the power of civil disobedience as social transformation. “If society is going to change as drastically and urgently as we need it to, some level of painful disruption seems necessary.” (Rolling Stone, April 2020, p. 59) They use the greatest tool available to humanity for social change. Mass civil disobedience…not with angry fury, but creative collective action, involving “crowds of people planting trees, singing songs and waving colorful flags. ” (Rolling Stone, April 2020, p. 97)
Fortunately, Mother Nature has intervened. She is helping us with social disruption. We are cocooned, socially distanced, quarantined, masked, grounded from our carbon lifestyles. For those not on the front lines, most are congregated in our own little “sheltering” oases. We cannot move en masse out onto the streets. But for those hidden away in our homes and ‘hoods, we are growing our civic consciousness. As Rebecca Solnit -writes
When a caterpillar enters its chrysalis, it dissolves itself, quite literally, into liquid. In this state, what was a caterpillar and will be a butterfly is neither one nor the other, it’s a sort of living soup. Within this living soup are the imaginal cells that will catalyse its transformation into winged maturity. May the best among us, the most visionary, the most inclusive, be the imaginal cells – for now we are in the soup. The outcome of disasters is not foreordained. It’s a conflict, one that takes place while things that were frozen, solid and locked up have become open and fluid – full of both the best and worst possibilities. We are both becalmed and in a state of profound change.“The Impossible has already happened: What the CoronaVirus Can Teach us About Hope”, by Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian, April 7, 2020
The bees also tell me about this new way of being…
In early April, I caught a swarm on a bush. Vulnerable. Their future uncertain. Their bellies gorged with the sweet elixir of honey and dreams for their new home, they set out on a journey. I put them into a hive and left them alone for a month. Every now and then I would peek inside the glass window. There all I could see was a vibrating orb of honeybees dangling there in a massive pulsing ball in the center of the hive. After a month, I opened them up. Inside was a hive, from front to back, filled with beautifully formed combs, brood and bees. It was surreal to see how quickly that had filled that box up to perfection. And now, after “sheltering in place” together for a month, they were ready to be split. Busting at the seams for change, you might say.
So, friends of bees and all, keep company, cocoon, prepare for metamorphosis, transformation.