Who Is Responsible for This Mess?

Okay, we should all know by now that all the data is pointing towards a miserable epoch ahead. Enjoying your daily Whopper? Then think about the dead and dying forests of British Columbia and the American northwest. Want to think about cute kittens on your screen? Then consider the Sixth Great Extinction, the species and billions of animals dead and doomed to early death solely by the mere fact of human existence on this planet.

Oh, and the acidifying seas, the horrific death rates in the Sub-Saharan Africa that humanity first appeared upon, or thereabouts, and the empty buildings showing the dashed hopes of an earlier generation. Face it, the lists of past, present, and future social horrors and environmental catastrophes condemn us a species as horribly ill-suited to possess cognitive capacity. We may be smart, kind, generous, and valiant,  able to form lasting companionship, sweet and funny to the core, but we act as predators, devastators, manipulators, killers.

Who is this “we”? You, or I, and to what extent? What is the specific roster of charges against any one of us? We are “responsible” only for our actions, as dependent on unconscious impulses and biases as they are, but as there is no great prosecutor in the sky, where are the trials of each and every one of us to be held? Only in the tortured existential crisis-a-day sanctum of our minds?

We may not think of ourselves as killers, but there is plenty of contrary circumstantial  evidence – your shoes got there by killing the people and the land that gave the kicks  petroleum and plastic shaping. Your food got there tonight not by your own pure, innocent microwaving hands, but by the death of innumerable large and small species on its way through the supply chain. The indigenous saints and martyrs surely have much less “responsibility” for this befouled now blue-green plant dotted by brownfields, but they can claim no prize, they may well have become us modern planet-trashers with a few more weapons at their command.

Absurd as it may be to realize, we can celebrate the grand achievement of such a sorry situation. This is what it means to be a human alive at this moment. We meant well, but social factors way beyond our control made  the mess. There is no way out, but at least we can  join together and face the truth as brothers and sisters, lovers and friends, heroes against the coming storm.



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