“Alarm bells should be going off and lights should be flashing everywhere…” Mick Collins, author of The Unselfish Spirit, said this when he was talking about the state of our planet. And, it’s true. We’re destroying the Earth and each other. We’re losing nature and all the wild things she holds. These are real losses, heartbreaking losses.
I work with, and deeply feel, Earth grief (eco-grief) constantly. Every day I talk to people who are waking up to the sorrows of the world. People who are grieving the loss of habitats, plants, animals, nature. People who are saying goodbye to the ocean, disappearing species, trees, and clean water. People who are brave enough to recognize that this is happening and it’s devastating.
Even when it’s not being recognized, planetary grief is overwhelmingly present. It’s heavy, it’s buzzing, it’s here. Some of us can feel it in our bones. We feel the tears, the pain, of the land and animals abused, dominated, and destroyed.
All of us are feeling it in one way or another. Many among us choose to zone it out, continuing to buy unnecessary things and watch screens in order to feel okay (I still do this sometimes). Or, participating in “outdoor materialism”—using nature to meet our needs without any question or care as to what she needs. As Francis Weller puts it in The Wild Edge of Sorrow, “The two primary sins of Western civilization: amnesia and anesthesia—we forget and we go numb.”
But I beg of you—our children, the bees, rivers, and animals beg of you—don’t forget, stop going numb. Stop pretending like everything is okay when the oceans are dying—have died. Stop nonchalantly talking about climate change while going about business as usual. Stop ignoring the underlying buzzing—the unsettling feeling—that something is off.
I know, it’s hard. It feels overwhelming. If we honestly face all that is happening a paralyzation can occur. What can we do? And, if it’s really that bad, what’s the point of looking at it at all?
What we can do is bear witness and grieve. Grief is evidence of love, and when we grieve we honor the things that are dear to our heart. When we grieve we are coming into right relationship with the Earth. When we grieve we come together with each other and all that is, we become more connected, more whole.
The point is that we can’t avoid this anymore, it’s here. Our only choice is how we will face it: with ignorance and more violence or love and presence? I choose to grieve, I choose love. (Oh, and then I choose to get out and take some fucking action—to resist, protect and connect.)