Despair can be a good thing? Hope has certainly been misplaced...
I missed the internet. Tonight I will sleep indoors, or not in the back of a minivan, for the first time in more than a week. I will have to send lots of e-mails to people I've recently met, but now barely remember me because I have taken so damn long to respond.
One of the things I didn't really get to on this blog that has stuck with me since before I left was the climate change hearing at the State Capitol (which hopefully shocked some people out of their cozy stupors), and the other events of that magical Monday. One of the sites that I enjoy the most for inspiration and pleasing consfusion (is it a time waster? is it an oracle?) had this while it was gone, which captured much of my thinking about that set of presentations by Prof G. David Tilman, Will Steger, and that guy with their earthworms and the somewhat naive assumption that native North American forest species would migrate northwards to replace some of the species we will likely lose... the forests south of here are pretty sparse and fragmented... earthworm guy should look harder at Tilman's work from the mid 90's and see what that means... "functionally extinct" (while still extant) was the briefest possible synopsis that actually seemed to penetrate the mainstream media then.
Derrick Jensen, in an issue of Orion magazine from last Spring (and also discussed here on the RI forum), wrote that "the most common words I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, 'We're fucked'":
Frankly, I don't have much hope. But I think that's a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.
Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.
And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power. In case you're wondering, that's a very good thing.
Perhaps some Democrats who pinned their hopes on the 2006 midterms, only to see the disgrace of "non-binding resolutions" at least one war too late, will die to hope and become dangerous to the System of Control. Most have already picked up the stakes of their hope and moved them downfield to 2008. Until we're hopeless nothing will change, except for the worse, and the world's circumstance will become even less tractable.
What do we do, when hope dies? If are programmed, then we become the virus. If we are food, then we become the toxin. If we are cattle, then we protect our calves. If we are hunted, then we rear up and kick the hunter in his own damned head.
As Kipling, of all people, said, We are the taint in the blood. We had better be.
[Jeff Wells, Rigorous Intuition]
On the other hand, the Department of Peace conference presenters made compelling cases for the need to address and alleviate despair where it is detected.
Anyway, I am sorry I missed my friends in Cincinnati, but I got a feel for the place, and saw a plant known to me from from the field guides for the first time in real life, a viney milkweed thing, dry and dead in the winter wind, tangled in hedges. Milkweeds (Asclepiadaceae) speak to me, for some reason. Rubber-containing plants, toxins, butterflies, and downy seeds in bursting pods. As much as I like the American milkweeds, its the Hoya species I have seen growing wild in the jungles of Sumatra that have really made me happy. I'll have to back to Ohio, probably, before I go back to Sumatra, to really study the rubber angle, help Kucinich, and hang out with Jayman and Raven.