Yo! Listen up! The future is already here.

I have to get something off my chest. It’s been building for the last few years but has now reached the point where it presses at me daily. Some of you will recognise the same feelings pricking at you, while others will bluster and demean, claiming I’m deranged, Lefter than Left, (add probable sexist insult here). That’s fine, think what you will. But if you do think I’m way off track, then I humbly suggest you check your level of privilege and question how often you operate on generosity vs self-interest.

Let’s start with the biggie: climate change. You’d have to be in a coma not to notice that every day now there’s news of some new natural disaster —monster storms, wild fires, flooding, droughts, heatwaves, sinkholes, landslides, crop failure . . . Every. Single. Day. We can go on arguing over the cause until we’re blue in the face — literally — but, here’s the thing, CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALREADY HERE. It’s upon us. We’re at the start of a whole new world and, even if every citizen on the planet now repented and started to act more sustainably, for several generations into the future we’ll still be fucked. Billions will suffer. Billions will be displaced. Billions will die.

Nothing is as it was in the ‘good old days’. Get over it. No amount of fingers in ears while chanting la-la-la is going change the fact that change is here, whether you like it or not. There are only two possible approaches here: 1) deny it, clinging onto the edge of the abyss by rotting fingernails, head above water only thanks to the billions of corpses you stand upon, bleeding every last cent out of your unsustainable investments so you can die in luxury alone, or 2) realise it’s time to change, right now, no matter how hard.

I understand how painful it is to realise that things we hold dear as our birthright need to be stripped away. None of us want to face the transition away from fossil fuels – our lives are built around them. I’m no different. I recycle and tote my reusable bags, we compost and grow veggies . . . but I also know this isn’t enough. What I want is strong, courageous leadership, showing me exactly how I need to change, and new systems put in place to help deal with and support that transition as it moves forwards. And I don’t care if no other country does it first. I want my country to do it and, if need be, lead the way as a global role model.

I’m sick of hearing arguments about the fucking economy, as if human beings’ sole purpose is to stockpile money and withhold sharing it from those who need it most.  Our conversion from interconnected trading communities to congregations worshipping at the temple of corporate greed has benefited few — although, like cash-rich evangelical churches, those with power are doing very nicely, thank you.

Why, when the largest percentage of the world’s population find daily living a slog and their future insecure, do we continue to prop up the people who play so ruthlessly with our futures? For far too long we’ve bought the ‘Money is God’ line, flapping about ineffectually, trying to catch elusive carrots on slippery sticks. We’ve bought a lie – particularly that old clanger about ‘trickle down’. We have to change.

Yes, petrol prices are going to rise and hurt the poorest among us first — so how do we support them through the change?  Yes, our framers need to immediately change the way they operate, for the sake of both the environment and the creatures in their ‘care’— so how do we support them through the change? Yes, jobs that we’ve counted on for years will disappear and we’ll have to find new ways to produce things and survive — so how do we support this? Yes, we’re going to see more and more displaced, desperate people banging at the doors of other nations, including our own, as the natural disasters climate change is heralding continue to increase in frequency and force — so how do we support them through the change? Change is never easy when it’s forced upon you — but it helps to enter into it with eyes wide open and a willingness to solve the problems.

Perhaps worst of all among the unfolding catastrophic consequences, is that we will continue to come under attack from the vile misinformation and spreading of hate that those in lofty privileged positions perpetuate to destabilise any attempts to change the system. Don’t kid yourself that the Left/Right divide is a natural consequence of human nature. It’s not. It’s a highly orchestrated attempt to poison progressive discourse at the very time we need it most.

You think attacks on gender are any different? No. What we’re seeing right now is the patriarchy fighting for their lives to keep the status quo. They know women are less convinced by the ‘money and power at all costs’ arguments. They know women, by virtue of their biology, have a vested interest in preserving the lives of their children and their children’s children. They know they’ve hogged all the power since forever and they don’t want to give it up. Same goes for white supremacists. Same goes for homophobes. Same goes for narcissists and bankers.

And, while I’m at it, let’s not forget the military-industrial complex. They need wars to bring in profits. They need enemies to justify the wars. Let’s stop buying into this. There are other ways to engage, other approaches to sort disputes, other means to protect what we claim as ours. While Trump and his friends are trying to dismantle every safe-guard for peace, such as the UN, we must support a return to placing human rights at the centre of all policy. The ratbags in opposition will tell you this is ‘virtue-signalling’, as if that is a crime. Well and good! ‘Virtue’ means behaviour showing high moral standards. ‘Signalling’ means conveying information or instructions. I’m more than comfortable with that. In fact, I want my government to uphold high moral standards and to convey their support of these standards to our people and to the world. One can only assume that those who use this as an insult, or to undermine, either have no moral compass or feel threatened by the need to end their venal ways.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the opposition politicians and media stooges at the heart of attacks on our current government’s attempts to bring about real change, will one day be looked upon as traitors of the people, and of our democracy — and of the planet. While they play their toxic finger-pointing and name-calling, stirring up a population brainwashed by their toxicity and stories of Might is Right, Winners and Losers, Cowboys and Indians, Kindness is Weakness, Fake News, Them vs Us, they are acting to solidify their positions, building their metaphorical and real Doomsday bunkers beneath us, planning to pull up the welcome mat and lock the doors once they’ve destroyed the world for everyone else.

I’ve reached the point that when I see something beautiful — some grand vista of nature or the incredible diversity alive on our planet — even as I’m marveling at it, I’m crying inside, knowing we’re on the brink of destroying it all. When I look at my tiny grandchildren, my heart is breaking for their futures. We have doomed them and their own off-spring. We have. Take some bloody responsibility. If you think this is over the top then you haven’t been paying enough attention or your self-interest is blinding you and hardening your heart.

I’m not saying the current government is perfect — but they’re a bloody sight better than the alternatives. All the bleating about the number of government reviews and expert panels is carefully curated shit-stirring and purposeful anti-intellectualism.  When you boil it down, it makes no sense to complain that our government wants to put the most expert heads together to try and solve our immediate and future problems. Wouldn’t any new business owner scope out all the possibilities, the risks and dangers, calling for best practice, evidence-based strategies to help move forwards? The reason the opposition fight it so hard, and work to undermine it, can only be that they realise their own policies and beliefs are not supported by the facts. Well, that and the inconvenient truth that often their past practices have been exploitative and environment-unfriendly and they: a) don’t want to change, and b) don’t want to be called out.

We still have a tiny window before all hell breaks loose — as it surely will. If we can’t get our shit together and work in a co-operative bipartisan way to secure at least some kind of possible future, then you may as well give up now. They say Nero fiddled while Rome burned and, though not true in Nero’s case, this is exactly what the constant nit-picking and obfuscation is designed to do: keep us arguing over whether we can smell smoke in the corner of the garden while, behind our backs, the whole town burns. We have to call them out. We have to speak in loud voices. We have call ‘bullshit’ and hit them in polls. Our lives depend on it. And, friends, we have to stop doing what we’ve always done and, instead, help lay the foundations for real sustainable change, change that supports everyone, not merely a self-selected, over-privileged few.

William Gibson

 

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