Living in the Current Crisis

I have no doubt that we’re living in a crisis, on the cusp of watching the (physical, economic, political, cultural) world as we know it fall apart. And I understand that our individual and corporate actions are contributing to that disintegration. Annie Dillard reminds me of past crises during which people must have viewed their situation as somehow uniquely unsettling. “The closer we grow to death, the more closely we follow the news” (/For the Time Being, p. 32). Yes, we are getting closer and closer to the death of any environment that might support our continued existence in anything like the lives that many of us – at least, those of us with privilege – have seen as the norm. And we continue to follow the news, reading each day of even greater collapse, coming much sooner, than we had thought possible only a few years ago.

And yet I find myself living my life as I’ve lived it. Making plans for the future, plans which assume that the savings we’ve been fortunate enough to collect will support us for the years remaining to us. Making plans to visit friends and family. Making plans to read still more books. Making plans to collect thoughts, either in journal entries or in these rare blog posts. Sure, I can say that I’ve made changes in my life: living without a car in an urban environment that allows us to walk or to take (almost) reliable public transportation to most places we need to go. Riding my bicycle along the Charles River. Living in a space much smaller than the houses we lived in before. But I’m still making choices that contribute to the destruction and benefiting from the burdens these choices place on the environment.

I want to do more, but there’s so much cultural inertia making it difficult to go against the flow. I wonder what these times will look like – and what I will think of myself – several years later when I’m looking back on them.