I admit to no longer looking forward to checking the news. After a weekend spent with my family, out of reception, on the shore of a little-known lake near Little Fort, the return to the fast-moving, permanently-connected-to-the-internet world, is nowhere near pleasant.
We had a weekend of stories and adventures, laughter over the silly antics of a dog so happy to be exploring the woods and jumping into the lake as she pleased, and full of the togetherness that words like ‘family camping’ do not do justice to. We went paddling in early mornings and late evenings when the water is as smooth as glass and the haunting calls of the loons are but wrapping around your thoughts like vines.
The phone was but a camera. When we left on Friday I was still processing the troubling thoughts caused by the US president’s decision to withdraw his country from the Paris climate change agreement. Overwhelming is an understatement. We are not yet in dire straights environmentally speaking, not over where we are anyway, but the threads that hold it all together disappear with every bad decision.
Lately I have been immersed in a book called ‘The right to be cold’ by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. It is a fascinating read with lots of Inuit history and, at the same time, an accurate and heartbreaking description of the way life in the Arctic has been affected by many factors, mainly climate change. The climate change-induced transformations of the Arctic world are happening twice as fast compared to changes in the rest of the world. A cautionary tale at best.
Yet, there are still climate change deniers. That I will never understand. I’d do but one thing to appeal to their minds and hearts: I’d take them to one of the many places where the sun splashes on a lake trying to coax waterlilies to reach to the surface, and you feel dwarfed by trees of all kinds shading delicate fairy slippers, wild strawberry flowers and newly emerged arnica flowers. Then I’d ask: What if this corner of paradise and many others would cease to exist? What if basic life needs could no longer be satisfied because the planet is simply not enabling for it?
There is still time. There’s hope.
A recent study done in Germany concluded that planting trees to sink carbon is simply not enough to counteract the effects of climate change. Though trees do absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, which makes new trees grow a lot faster due to its high concentrations these days, we would need immense surfaces – the equivalent of all the agricultural land plus some more, if we are to slow down climate change. We need to let go of fossil fuels and focus on alternatives.
Yet letting go of hope is not an option, no matter how deeply disturbing one president’s decision to embrace denial is. Hope we must, hope we will. There are still many countries (some US states too), committed to act towards making life on earth last, Canada included, which is a comforting thought. Yes, Canada will have to forgo pipelines and dams and LNG soon enough if the commitment is to be a fruitful one.
That was, as I said, the thought context in which I entered the blissful ‘out of reception’ zone with my loved ones. Upon our return, connection grabbed onto our phones half an hour or so after leaving the campsite.
We got home, unloaded, scrubbed dishes, and sorted through the camping gear to store it away till next time. It was my oldest who checked the news first. There was another attack in London, he said.
More people senselessly killed, others critically wounded, more fear and terror spreading, more questions that will remain, once again, unanswered.
I know this is but the one of the facets news outlets focus on. I know that the famine in South Sudan is beyond tragic and millions are on the brink of death due to starvation and diseases; that boats of hopeful migrants, many of whom children, still engage in crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life, and that the Middle East is still ravaged by bombings, and senseless dying happens everywhere you look.
It’s that and more that made me steer away from connecting back to the world. It’s sad, it’s scary, it’s angering, and it’s not going to end anytime soon, unfortunately. Yet, just like I stated above, it’s hope we must commit to. There simply is no better way.
Hope makes anger dwindle; when solutions are needed, rather than more resentment, hope, and willingness to hold onto what makes us human (kindness is what comes to mind first) must be strengthened. It’s the hardest thing at times.
Whenever dark, hopeless thoughts invade my mind, I seek the one refuge that somehow stays unaltered every time: the hope that the world can be changed. It takes many (most of us?) but it’s possible. Somehow, some of the areas of the drawing board on which we sketch life have become blackened by horror acts and fear. But the big picture can still be lit up if enough well-wishing hands keep on sketching bright, hopeful bits of life. It takes many. Most of us and each of us.