(Q) One simple question: Is it too late?
(A) I’m going to assume that we are both talking about the same thing. I understand where you are coming from. You are not the first to wonder about this, aloud in or in secret. Almost everyone I know has considered the possibilities that were unthinkable a few years ago. There is something about this question that makes us whisper it, as if raising the volume would also raise the alarm.
I’ll be honest with you. Sometime last year I did think we had veered too far off course. I thought that maybe we would be unable to gain a foothold. I couldn’t see a path through the density of unconsciousness. It felt like we were stumbling, falling into a disturbed sleep without imagination to fuel our dreams. Maybe you felt it, too? Luckily, it was just a temporary feeling. Not entirely inaccurate, but incomplete.
Looking at potential futures is something I like to do, even when I don’t like what I see. Everyone knows that there is no exact, predictable future. The future is predictable; there will be a future. It is full of promise but empty of substance. Visionaries like me seed potential futures with prima materia, or pure potential. We then speed up the mechanisms of spacetime and watch what happens. The scenery is ever-changing and I never see the same exact thing twice. My questions are always open-ended. Recently I asked, the earth is a garden albeit different than it was -- what can grow in this garden, who can flourish? While the pictures are not always consistent, a story will usually unfold. And stories want to be told. Our present story looks a little like this:
It’s too late to believe that is everything is fine, and there is nothing to be concerned about. It’s also too late to believe that the things that are not fine can be easily corrected and restored. This generation, our generation – friends, family, neighbors from all corners of the world have reason for concern – so does the next generation, and the next, and the one after that. It’s too late for pointing fingers, and even looking in the mirror is a distraction and a delay. But to answer your question, it is NOT too late.
To emerge from this predicament, we must answer some new questions. For instance, if we can no longer go forward as we have, how can we go forward? So far, we have only been asking old questions in old ways by old questioners, who want old answers so they can go back to their old ways. This will only work for a few people over a short time. The old ways will not kill our Mother Planet. She has rich heritage, a varied past, and is very patient. Time is on her side. It is not on ours, which means that we should really begin to engage our imaginations soon.
Our future lies in our ability to imagine one. Humans are pioneers of imagination -- imagineers. This is really the task ahead of us – to dream, imagine, and create. The will, the wisdom, and then the way. I am not a social scientist or a political scientist, but it is not difficult to see that many of the systems in place throughout the world have run their course. There is more to say about this, but where would we stop?
Most importantly, your question implies time – is it too late? If it is not too late, how much time do we have? Not much, but what does that mean? It means that our lives will be shorter and less fulfilling until we remember who and what we are. It means that our bodies will be less healthy and well while we ignore the welfare of the planet and its resources. It means less food and clean water, less natural beauty, fewer beneficial species. It is not a loss of time, it is a loss of quality time, quality resources, and quality life.
To be clear: we can no longer fix our predicament by recycling more plastic, eating less meat, buying fewer holiday gifts, rebuilding old infrastructures, taxing tobacco and fossil fuels, launching more sophisticated space probes, or punishing big tech, big pharma, big banks, and big government. As my teacher often said, practice as if your house were on fire, because it is.
So how we get there is where we’ll arrive. The earth is patient. Humans? Not so much.