The Floods last August in Louisiana.
The Floods three weeks ago in New Orleans.
NOLA, are you awake yet?
We are 12 years out. Have we learned our lessons? More importantly, have I? What was my truth 5 years after the BIG K? Am I living it now?
And oh yeah America, this is also your problem. If you aren’t asking yourself questions following this disaster, no matter where you live, I am sorry, but you are living in an illusion. Maybe this won’t happen where you live in your lifetime. But have you considered the lives of your children?
I know Charlottesville just happened and we are reeling as we are reminded once again how fundamental racism, white supremacy, and violence are to the fabric of our nation. And don’t get me wrong—racism and white supremacy and violence are the problem. One of the central reasons New Orleans has not recovered smarter and is still so horribly threatened by mother nature is because of racism and white supremacy and the violence that follows from it.
To me climate change and global warming are better named and understood as the ravaging of mother earth, the persistent imperialist, colonialist, racist, patriarchal, misogynistic, heteronormative, ableist, global capitalist materialist worldview….that is the threat to the earth, all of it, all together. And as intersectionality teaches us, it makes no sense to try to separate one aspect of this threat from another, for it is through our separation that we become weak.
Instead, take a moment to own up to it, this worldview is a part of me, and a part of you, and a part of all of us. There aren’t actually good guys and bad guys the way you like to think. And I know it’s comforting, to be able to fight against Nazis, I know that feels good, to be able to see your enemy in the flesh, and destroy it, but unfortunately this beast we are all a part of creating is a lot more complicated than that. We are all in this way too deep, every single one of us. If you’re in America, you are a part of this beast. Doesn’t matter where you live or what you do or how much “good” you are doing in the world or even how bad of a shake you got in life….we are all a part of this, and we will only get out of it together. The question is, are you courageous enough to face it in yourself, and act on it? Do you have the balls to love yourself even after you see the way your life is violent, oppressive and destructive to the lands that give you life?
We can’t live like this anymore…we have to make a change…we have to transform…we have to heal…we have to grow…we have to shift…so many incredible souls have awakened to this fact. But the question is will you put your feet and your resources where your heart is? Or will you continue to hold back because you’ve been hurt in the past? And perhaps most importantly, are you ready to sacrifice all of the ways this worldview is benefitting you?
>If you drink water, do you know where it comes from? Do you know which pollutants contaminate it and why? Do you know who suffers or profits when you buy your water?
>Do you ride in cars or travel by planes, do you use fossil fuels? Are you accountable to the harm the extraction of this resource causes?
>And where does your food come from and who is suffering, and what is suffering, and which lands are being desecrated, and which species are being wiped out, so that you can sustain yourself everyday?
…and it goes on and on….
Not knowing the answers to these questions is itself a form of violence and oppression against the land and waters that give you life. If we mean a robust intersectionality, then this form of violence and oppression must be acknowledged. And don’t get me wrong–I am very far from a purist in this. I don’t know the answers to any of these questions fully for myself. All I know is my ignorance is violence. This is not meant to shame you or blame you or guilt you. I’m not asking you these questions or suggesting you consider them so that you can become a “good” person or a “better” person. I’m asking you because if we don’t all start thinking about this, deeply, we are no longer going to be able to live on this earth.
Because this is what I know, from Katrina—the number one reason we have not recovered better than before is because we have remained in a state of denial. Denial about our racism and our deeply sick and violent criminal justice system, denial about our environmental vulnerability, denial about our misogyny, denial about our frail and selfish humanity. Until we wake up to the truth, nothing is possible. Yes the truth hurts—but trust me, it is better than this nightmare of denial. When we resist or deny our pain, we exacerbate our wounds, we act and speak from them, and we create more pain. And we don’t even know we are doing it, because we are numb to how it hurts. Until one day, the storm hits, and for a while, you just can’t deny things any more.
To humans on this earth–we are a part of this earth and it is hurting. That bond between life and earth and earth and life is getting stretched thin, the rope that binds us is fraying and so many things are dying, never to live on the earth again. The coral reef is dead, the whales are washing up on the shores, the forests are burning, the bees are not buzzing, and we are in a period of mass extinction on this earth. The balance between life and death has been tilted, and there is currently more death than life. Let yourself feel the way it makes you hurt, please, that’s truly all I ask. Please do not look at Hurricane Harvey and pity or have sympathy for anyone. Take a look at yourself and understand how you are a part of this. That is what I am trying to do right now, because to be honest this whole last cycle of storms and floods has reminded me that I’ve let myself fall asleep again.
And yes, it weighs me down and destabilizes me, distracts me from my creative projects, from my ambitions, from my passions, all of it. Facing the threat climate change poses to my home, it can be a real mother fucker. But all I know is if I don’t do it, I feel like a fraud. I have every penny to my name invested in New Orleans and I love this city with my whole heart, but I don’t actually have much hope at all that my children will be able to see a future here. The myriad of threats New Orleans faces from rising sea levels to the destruction of the wetlands to subsidence to hurricanes to epic flash flooding is just too great. I feel like to live a life with integrity, I have to take this reality to heart, and my actions need to align with the truth my heart sees. And at the same time I have no idea how to understand this truth without exploding from the contradictions it poses.
The Floods two weeks ago in New Orleans.,
Now Iris churning in the Atlantic Ocean.
NOLA, are you awake yet?
America, are you?
Things are changing. These floods are just one part of our alarm. The very fabric of our environment that makes it possible for us sustain life in our communities is transforming before our eyes. Are we going to transform with it…i.e…adapt? Or are we going to keep our heads in the sand?
When you come to terms with the realities of climate change, what do you feel ready to change? How can you alter the way you interact with the land you live off of and the people you share your resources with? What gives you hope? What gives you solace? And most importantly…what is your dream?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…and I’ll try my best to answer that question in the part 2! Stay tuned, with all of my love,