Finding hope during the end times
Courage is the first step in confronting coming ecological catastrophes
At the surface level, there is almost no hope for humanity in a world that is rapidly approaching apocalyptic catastrophe.
The threat of climate change, boom and bust capitalism, food shortages, viral mutations, the growing gap between the rich and the poor and so on are seemingly converging in a perfect storm of consequences for humanity’s survival.
It all strongly suggests that humanity may not make it through the year 2100.
With the threat of climate change especially, brought on through unsustainable economic growth, the resources and landscapes civilization is built upon is looking to be altered forever.
The world will be drastically changed to the extent that human beings may no longer have a natural fit in it.
Part of the solution is decreasing economic growth in the Western world and investing in overhauling the global energy grid – solutions that are hard to fathom and with very little political or economic support.
The monstrously large task of economic and societal change needed to address global climate change and ecological catastrophe tends to play a psychological role on the political decisions offered to deal with it. Weak emissions reductions targets are proposed with no will to meet them.
The administrations of the United States and Canada, for example, frequently claim they will do nothing unless rapidly industrializing economies like China do something first.
Overall, melancholic solutions are proposed.
The large-scale inability of humanity to grasp the true extent of the dangers produces the false hope of eventual reduction in emissions and “sustainable” capitalism.
This type of hope believes that solutions are possible within the ideology that caused the crises. It suppresses the true extent of the dangers and reduces the potential for solutions.
The reason for the inadequacy of the global response to climate change is an inability to think beyond the ideological limits of capitalism.
In his recent book Living in the End Times, Slavoj Žižek compares the collective response to economic crisis and climate change with the five stages of grief.
Despite the mountain of empirical data to verify the impending large-scale death and social disruption resulting from global climate change, humanity still seems to be stuck in the first stage: denial.
Humanity is caught within this cycle of grief in its approach to the impending Armageddon and is showing few signs of a willingness to invest in adequate solutions.
But remaining in this cycle ensures nothing more than the eventuality of its last two stages, depression and withdrawal.
Here, it should be realized that hope can be found in accepting the impending coming of global climate change.
In accepting the impending reality of apocalypse we can find a new form of hope.
This new form of hope is created in the idea that humanity’s existence is mortal.
By envisioning the true extent of damage to humanity as a result of the coming ecological apocalypse, the courage of humanity in confronting the coming crisis takes root.
It takes a certain degree of fundamental courage in accepting that we live in the end times. And that courage is the most beautiful part of being a human being.
The acceptance of Armageddon is itself the only way out of these end times.
By accepting the fallacy of hope within the economic system that caused the crisis to begin with and that we will suffer horribly as a result of our ignorance, a new way of approaching the world can be developed.
Matt Austman is a politics and human rights and global studies student at the University of Winnipeg.
Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)