BY MARK Y.A. DAVIES
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, the eucatastrophic moment only comes when good and compassionate persons realize that they must be willing to bring their full and whole lives [even to the point of being willing to sacrifice their lives] to bear on the revolutionary task at hand of turning the world away from fear, hate, darkness, and death towards hope, love, light, and life. If one has not yet recognized that one’s full life is being called upon, then one has not yet realized what we are facing, and half measures will be met with utter defeat and destruction rather than new life in a new world.
Eucatastrophe is only possible after fully realizing the breadth and depth of the catastrophe of this moment. The only way we can save anything is for us to realize that on our current trajectory we will lose everything.
Most people would rather not hear that our chances are very small for being able to address the climate crisis before it is too late to avoid climate chaos. This is not news anyone wants to hear. We would rather be told that we have this under control, that everything is going to somehow be alright, that even though things look bad right now we can turn this around, or that there will be some kind of eucatastrophic breakthrough or turn of events that will lead us through our global crisis towards global renewal.
The dangers of hopelessness are real, but we have been telling ourselves that somehow we will figure climate change out for over 30 years and the indicators that we are doing anything but figure this out are staring us relentlessly in our collective face. If we have any hope of participating in the climate eucatastrophe that we so desperately need, we must first recognize in full relief the reality of our climate crisis and embrace each other in the fierce urgency of now to work for the life giving turn around to create a new world in Beloved Community.
Sometimes we have to sit outside and mourn around the tomb of death that we are experiencing before new life and renewed life can break into the world. There is hope, but not unless our eyes are wide open to the reality of the deadly threat we are all facing and why and how we have allowed ourselves to get to a point where the survival of humanity and many species of life hang in the balance.
We cannot forget, however, Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning that there is such a thing as being too late, and we have to realize that no one else is going to save us. It is up to us, all of us, to give our lives to bring about the climate eucatastrophe to save our human community and the ecological community of which we are all a part. It’s worth the sacrifice. It’s worth our lives.
– Mark Y.A. Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. Click here for more of his essays.