If we’re doomed, then what do we do?

Mary-Jayne, in a comment to the last post, has asked an important question. If the game is up, and as a species we are toast, then what would I (as representative, I guess, of said species claiming, partly as therapist, to have something worthwhile to say) like to see happen in the time we have left?

It’s a question that goes to the heart of how to conduct the discussion around climate change and sustainability.

Overdo the alarm, and your interlocutor gives up, and reaches for the hemlock.

Underdo it, and people carry on with business as usual, hoping the problem will go away, or that someone else will solve it. A spiral, only somewhat gratuitously illustrated left with a lovely 19th-century staircase from a Kerala lighthouse in India…

My own take, Mary-Jayne, is that we DO need, especially as therapists claiming some understanding of human consciousness and the unconscious, to name the unnamable, firmly and regularly. Arguing as we do two things.

a) If it’s true that it’s not yet too late, as some insist, then it certainly will be unless we take truly drastic action NOW. And since that’s not happening, people need as I see it to be alarmed, into taking the danger seriously.

b) And even if it is too late, as I believe (not that it isn’t theoretically doable, just that humankind isn’t, as I argue elsewhere in this blog, psychologically capable facing up to and implementing what needs to be done), then we must still continue firmly to name and talk about the unnamable, and prepare, like a patient with a terminal diagnosis preparing to go into a hospice, to die well.

That process could open a difficult but also meaningful and in some ways even precious time for humanity to reach out to itself and connect, to find compassion and loving, to begin to let go with grace and dignity. Yes, pigs might fly. And a lot of what is coming our way won’t be at all pretty.

But if we don’t name these truths as we see them, then we will in effect be colluding with denial and acting out in a way we would never allow ourselves to do with individual clients or groups in therapy.

So, I hope that goes a short way to addressing your question, Mary-Jayne.

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