Trying to find hope in the face of climate grief

The future is so unknowable. I’m sure in the cold war age there was a similar sense of dread as now, but the difference with climate change is that our fates aren’t determined by another government – it’s determined by an inter-tangled web of capitalists and government policies, and the degradation of our natural environment can’t be negotiated with. Something in common, though, is probably how powerless the average person feels in this situation.

Part of me wonders if we’re just going to ‘status-quo” ourselves into oblivion, continue being entertained and working at our day jobs until the habitat is no longer hospitable to life. I wrote a short story yesterday inspired by this thought. I don’t think that’s what will happen, even though this decade and perhaps the next will still be full of watching TV, YouTube, TikToks, playing with apps and social media, and continue under the pretense of a normal life as things are getting worse.

At what threshold does it change? When will the “middle-class” demographic in the U.S., no longer satiated by comforts and entertainment, finally decide to join in the fight with those who are going to be taking the hits sooner than us? Are we (middle class white people) going to just sit around and let others suffer until the decaying system affects us in ways that we can no longer ignore?

Or, is one good thing that mass climate grief brings to the table is unwillingness to sit and watch as atrocities happen? Are we finally no longer the delusion that where everybody is in life is due to their individual virtues, as the American Dream likes to push? The talk of systems, capitalism, fascism, exploitation, socialism, and communism is much louder today than it was in 2016. More people are talking. More people are protesting. More people are angry.

But I still sit in an office every day. Back in February of this year I realized that, to take a job earning as much as I possibly can, is self-defense at this point. I try to use that money to help those around me, i try to use my extra free time and energy to help, but overall I’m still in an office, living out each day similarly to the rest. I’m depressed and I’m grieving. Time moves by so fast, it feels like if I don’t sit down and just exist for a moment, it passes by instantly.

If the world ended next month, my biggest regret would be not valuing the time I have now, enjoying my time with my husband and my friends. If I become a grizzled old survivor living in a fortified outpost in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, I’d probably spend a lot of time thinking about how I spent too much time today

It’s hard to imagine systems changing in the next ten years, but at the same time it’s been a constant thought in my mind that at some point I’m going to have to join a fight to change the world, to remove these systems of capitalism that work around imaginary dollars and put more value these imaginary things than in real humans. In 2020, I’ll be 32. Ill be 62 in 2050. The world may be uninhabitable by 2100. What is even going to happen in this lifetime of mine?

A final note, more and more I’ve been wondering about my tendency to save things – I have my diaries from the age of 12 to whenever I last wrote in a paper diaries (in my 20s?), I keep all my projects in repositories, I have servers of data and photos and memories. But, will the internet even exist by the time I’m gone? Should I be saving these things digitally? Eh.

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