A statement made by the most disturbing individual from the documentary, Jesus Camp, Becky Fischer, a Pentacostal children’s minister has since stuck with me. Of all the horrors one witnesses in that film, the one that strikes me hardest is not the the most confronting, but is probably an idea held by more religiously minded people across the globe than any other. It is an idea that has even crept into entertainment and is so widespread that, if only without thinking, almost anyone of us might agree with. It means many things to many people (some, most disturbingly relish in the fantasy of it) and as far as I can tell, any understanding other than the scientific argument is one that is self-perpetuating and ultimately a self-destructive desire.
“This is a sick old world…”
Almost all faiths talk of versions of The End – most that lead to a following Utopia. Books and movies dramatise various representations of The End – almost always with the sunrise on the ending. As such, almost no-one is free from this horrendous ideology. It’s little better than a voice in our collective heads, urging us to self-harm. War, illness, famine, plague – it’s all part of The End… apparently.
I’m not so easily convinced of the “sick old world” mantra.
Sure, most of us could take numerous examples of an ailing world – the slums, once fertile farming lands, now dust, persistent algal blooms, the spread of HIV – hell, shouldn’t I know well enough? I mean, it’s clear that I keep up with the scientific literature – it all paints a sad story…
This is of course absolute bullshit.
Until recent years, before climate zones began to change so much that new biodiversity assemblages started appearing in remnant natural environments, you could put forth a strong case that the world was only sick where we had stepped. Vast areas in remote corners of the world still thrived with abundant life. Since our impact on the climate became noticeable, this has changed however.
The world isn’t old and dying – we’re actively attacking it. A couple years ago, I read John Pilger’s Heroes. In his early years in Australia, he notes, the native Australian’s were considered to be dying because they were a primitive race, destined for extinction. We now know that these poor people were dying due to no immunity to all the diseases that we Westerners brought with us! It’s appalling how long this fact took to be addressed and it is quite clear that many people are making the same mistake with this oasis of ours, spinning in a cold and so far empty void. We’re bringing on the pain.
James Howard Kunstler talks about the value of urban environments and it’s clear that we’ve produced vast sprawling places that we don’t like. I’ve always disliked the monotony of suburbia – it just seems a dead place except for a few small patches, such as your own yard, because most of it is personally meaningless. Other than domesticated animals and a few generalists, we barely see much evidence of biodiversity – many invertebrates that tolerate (or excel in) our environments are poisoned off. The only reason these places are ailing are because we’ve made them like this. It’s like insisting on a haircut and outfit that make you feel physically ill when you accidentally catch sight of your reflection in a window.
As for the sunrise, the Second Coming, Utopia, the Golden Era, whatever you want to call it, I only have this to say; there is absolutely no credible evidence that following destruction, life will be better – in fact, if you talk to any survivor of a major disaster they’ll tell you that it took a long time and amazing effort just to return life to any form of normality and many of the physical and emotional scars do not heal at all. There is, however, an abundance of reliable evidence that suggests that we are the cause of many environmental degradations and that life will become increasingly difficult for most species currently in existence. In short, it’ll be a weedy, rat and cockroach infested world if we persist in our activities. Being relatively slow, weak, intolerant to temperature fluctuations without excessive shelter and clothing and requiring a long time to reach maturity and constant supply of fresh water, we will probably not meet the needs of the far off *, incredibly depleted Anthropocene.
Without sound reasoning and evidence, we fail to grasp the reality of the state of the world. We instead mindlessly drive around suburbia, looking at the unappealing sprawl, potentially while listening to the latest news from Afghanistan and think about just how sick the world is. Well no; we’ve made the mess. Do you mourn over an ailing bedroom when a child has has thrown their toys all over the place or rejoice because it means that a fairy is going to come along, clean it all up and paint the room in pure gold? No – you tell the child to clean up their mess.
Well, we’ve trashed the Earth. Stop holding it to prophecy. Stop deluding yourself that it’s an old and dying globe. Stop placing the blame on anyone else. It’s our mess and we need to address it.
*Don’t jump on to the comments to scream that I’m an alarmist – it will not happen to the world you or I will know – it’s the doomsday thinkers (religious or not) who believe it’ll work in this way, but continuing this ridiculous Armageddon delusion is nothing more than a self-perpetuating prophecy and that mentality is alarming!