A and B are hospitalised. Both are seriously ill and facing their last days of life. Both were given realistic information about their health condition and treatment options. There is no way out, and they know it. They both face death with open eyes. They know they will die. Soon.
The fact that the situation has no way out is a reason to have no hope?
A thinks that having hope is meaningless and awaits death with apparent serenity. A’s voice trembles, and hands shake as she thinks over and over again “What did I do to deserve this” or “What the hell am I doing here”. B is hopeful and believes there is a way out. Focused on the glass of water she has at hand gives thanks for the minutes she has left while she waits for the end.
A and B represent the poles through which we all oscillate when we think about the consequences of global warming: climate change, loss of biodiversity, melting of glaciers, overpopulation, rise in sea level, the effects of weather erosion of soil, water pollution, decreased rainfall, heat waves etc.
A and B are screwed, and they know it. Yet there is a difference in their points of view. What is this difference, and why does it matter today?
The difference is that while A has no hope, B does. Why does it matter? It matters because A’s approach resembles a one-way street that repeatedly reinforces the idea that nothing can be done, that we are finished, that we have to wait and die. Today, when social media is saturated with negative messages about the climate crisis, thinking without hope is like lighting a match in the middle of a gas tank. As we live through the Covid world, we have witnessed pure and simple chaos as crazed crowds hurried to supermarkets for toilet paper, toothpaste and shampoo.
A’s proposal not only seems less pathetic but more practical as well. Reinforcing the idea that there is no way out is a way of creating a loop of self-fulfilling prophecy, which would be like increasing speed only to hit a wall with greater force. On the contrary, B’s approximation is rooted in hope, which matters today more than ever.
Hope gives us the power of knowing that the last word has not been said, and this opens a gap to hold on to as we hang off the cliff. Hope matters because it empowers us to drive others to change, to motivate them out of the vicious cycle of apathy. B’s hope matters because it places us in the present; it gives us a margin to act, change, see, start over, come back to life, and repent. Call it what you want, that moment is now, and it matters. Everything is at play in the present.
Meanwhile, A and B are still in the Hospital’s waiting room, and we are with them in the middle of the climate crisis. If this were a movie, it would be entitled “Pandora’s Box” and the end of this movie is still in our hands.
Photo Art © @jasontsangphoto_ (Photographize)