In the 90s Captain Planet was a popular TV show. If this propaganda hadn’t existed, I wouldn’t have cared whatsoever. Every episode started with a threatening message about how humans are destroying Earth. I thought it was nice that the characters tried to save it.
My parents weren’t really educated, and very much a product of every commercial explosion that has happened since their birth. Fast-food conglomerates, pre-packaged dinners, cheap plastic clothes, and the Free Trade Agreement were all things that touched their lives with its mercy of convenience.
People at school would tell us to recycle because plastic doesn’t decompose and it’s made out of toxins. They told us to cut the rings of pop can packaging so that fish wouldn’t get stuck in them and die. I received a lot of facts and the only thing that connected them was the idea that Earth was suffering.
From my perspective it was difficult to see the urgency, or what suffering could even mean for something inanimate. Humans were fine, going to the grocery store, shopping for food, drinking sugar, driving minivans, canoodling at church. There was a constant lull of mindless activity punctuated by an activist’s mantra, once a year, in April.
By pubescence I’d adopted a generally negative, uncooperative outlook on the whole thing. My best friend had the opposite opinion. She really cared about nature. She liked planting trees and observing the propulsions of insects. She believed that if people didn’t care about the health of the planet, they certainly didn’t care about the health of themselves or their families.
I believed that humans were destined for apocalyptic disaster and saw myself living homelessly with crust punks, in the realest semblance of freedom I could cultivate.
It should be no surprise that I became engrossed in philosophy. I liked thinking about questions that were hard to answer, or sanctioned by paradox. My friend thought philosophy was pointless and unproductive. I preferred reading it for entertainment, while she was captivated by more lively endeavors, like fundraising for conservation efforts. Eventually I became interested in cognition, through the portal of old texts about human nature.
The mysteries residing behind our behaviors were fascinating. More and more I became infatuated with animals, out of respect for their “human-like” brains. Even a worm became interesting to me, how its nervous system controlled each movement; how they’d propagate and create more worms. Things were just beginning to make sense but it would take a lot of effort for me to understand the magnitude of what my friend had stated years before.
Plastic will decompose eventually. Earth will become hot. The sun will explode. The planet is not suffering. The planet will be fine, it will always be fine. It is man with the capacity to suffer. We shouldn’t feel sad for the species gone extinct becaue they are dead. We should feel sad for us because we are the ones without richness, diversity dwindling and escaping our experiences, rapidly before our eyes. We are the ones who will compromise quality for excess or negligance or both.
Time is sweet.