On the Importance of Building Sand Castles

Warning: an historian’s Lemony-Snicket view of the world. Proceed with caution!

We are facing an unprecedented threat to modern civilization. Even at the height of the Cold War, when only two nations possessed the great preponderance of nuclear warheads, there was a pretty clear cut solution that didn’t necessitate the elimination of the very basis of that civilization. That’s hardly the situation now as we undergo an accelerating pace of climate destabilization set in motion by our use of fossil fuels.

When you throw into the mix an unwavering insistence on preserving the American Way of Life and the possession of nuclear arms by some of the very nations that have the most exposure to catastrophic climate chaos (Pakistan, India, the Middle East, etc.), and then inject the fuel of extreme religious fervor, what are the possibilities of implementing an adequate solution?

640px-sand_castle2c_cannon_beach

It’s this hydra-headed threat of climate chaos, nuclear proliferation, American commitment to material consumption, and religious fanaticism (Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu — let’s be clear about that) that makes the whole situation so dark. And on top of all this you put a sociopath like Donald Trump in the White House? Good luck is all I can say.

It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine a path through the conundrum that we have created for ourselves. I don’t think you can disentangle climate destabilization from the other factors — that’s what’s so grim about the current situation. Each factor is just as real and threatening as the other, and they’re all mutually reinforcing.

If the crisis involved only climate change, then the possibility of some kind of technical solution emerging within the necessary time frame could be envisioned, much like arms control agreements during the Cold War. But when the other variables are factored in? Not so much.

If you’re interested in trying to be a moral person with some semblance of integrity, I’m afraid the only reasonable course of action is to do what you can in your own local community, while recognizing with clear eyes, that you’re building your sand castle well below the high tide line.

But at least you’re doing something. It’s the beach version of Sisyphus‘s punishment. The difference for us, obviously, is there’s a beginning, middle, and end, unlike poor Sisyphus, whose plight is eternal.

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