Have you seen Peter Watkins’ film, ‘The War Game’? I must have seen it in 1976, eleven years after it was originally screened. In case you haven’t seen it, here is a brief synopsis from IMDB: “a fictional, worst-case-scenario docudrama about nuclear war and its aftermath in and around a typical English city.”
While the threat of nuclear war was not imminent in the mid-to-late seventies in suburban Melbourne, the authentic representation of what might occur if such an event was to happen left such a strong imprint on my subconscious that I often dreamt of being in the midst of this kind of devastation. Then the Cold War ended and my secret dread lifted.
Now, almost 40 years later, I have once again been having those uneasy feelings about what the future may hold.
After my last post, I have noticed that I have been wondering if there is any use making changes in our lives, large or small, with the intention of treading more lightly on the Earth. I consider myself to be an optimistic person so I was surprised to discover such a thought swimming around in my head.
As the Australian Federal Government moves further away from demonstrating a commitment to addressing Climate Change, as ‘Terrorists and terrorism’ become frequent ‘visitors’ in most newspaper headlines, and we are constantly reminded of the spread of Ebola and the apparent lack of will to stop it displayed by Western countries, I guess it is no wonder I’ve been feeling a bit ‘out of sorts’ of late.
I’ve had to have a chat with myself and gave myself some advice:
1. Don’t take yourself, life, the news, etc. too seriously.
2. Human beings throughout history have thought that ‘the end of days’ is nigh. So far, it hasn’t happened.
3. Get back on the horse.
So here I am.
It helps to have some sign posts along the way. One of mine has been Joanna Macy, ‘an environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theorist and deep ecologist’. (wikipedia) In October last year I came across a book Macy co-wrote called ‘Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy.’ Here is an excerpt:
Not needing to know the outcome
Many of our planet’s problems, such as climate change, mass starvation, and habitat loss, are so much bigger than we are that it is easy to believe we are wasting our time trying to solve them. If we depend on seeing the positive results of our individual steps, we’ll avoid challenges that seem beyond what we can visibly influence. Yet our actions take effect through such multiplicities of synergy that we can’t trace their causal chain.
Everything we do has ripples of influence extending far beyond what we can see.
Last night I dreamt that I met up with the dalai lama. He could see the concern on my face and he took me in his arms and held me in a long embrace. I woke up feeling much better.
November 2, 2014 at 2:11 am
The world portrayed by the media definitely has a darker tone these days. And the time for governments to address the worst effects of climate change is quickly running out. I stay optimistic by remembering all the wonderful, positive projects and actions that are occurring at a range of scales, from local to global. I also have a sense that these may be reaching a critical mass, at least I hope so. Another activity that lifts me up is listening to the song ‘Happy’ by William Pharrell. It really works for me! As does Macy’s observation that everything we do has far reaching ripples of influence. This emphasises the inter-connectedness of us all, particularly with the new technologies in play. So small (or large) changes are definitely worth it in our quest for a more sustainable way of living.