the rest of the story1

A cold steady rain has been falling most of the day and the wind has been relatively strong out of the north.

A cold steady rain has been falling most of the day and the wind has been relatively strong out of the north.

Every few hours I grab my rain jacket and venture down to the lake. It is quiet along the shoreline.

When I return to the cabin this time I stoke the woodstove and heat water for coffee.

It is a beautiful fall day and I am grateful for the time I can spend here.

When the coffee is ready I fill my cup and go sit outside on the front porch.

From here the world appears just as it should. Poplar and birch leaves float down to the sand, ducks move in pairs out into the cove, and occasionally a few geese dart by hanging low to the water.

It would be impossible to know from this vantage point that the natural world is in serious trouble, but it is.

The alarms sounded by the environmental movement over the last decade have for the most part fallen on deaf ears.

Our options are becoming less each day.

Even the diehards are becoming unnerved at the speed at which the planet is warming.

Response from government has been all but meaningless.

Leadership on this issue is virtually nonexistent. It is business as usual.

What is most troubling to me is the fact that I am doing very little to be helpful.

Here I sit sipping strong coffee knowing full well the magnitude of the problem.

I do not know what it will take to get me up and going.

How many more species will have to become extinct in order for me to be moved to act?

When I do finally hear the wake up call, how will I respond?

The problem, of course, is that in order to meet this crisis we will need a complete overhaul of the way we have been doing business.

And if that is not challenge enough, these changes will have to take place virtually overnight.

We will have to give up on the automobile as a form of transportation and search out other means.

Our educational systems have failed to educate us to action and will have to be reconstituted from the bottom up.

Our system of economics based on unlimited consumption is old hat and yet there is nothing new on the horizon.

The environmental crisis is also a crisis of spirituality and yet most of us fail to fully understand the important contributions morality, faith and hope can make.

So for the most part life just goes on.

Political parties continue to squabble over nuances in legal and legislative language while our sources of fresh water dry up and the polar caps melt away.

Markets continue to war with one another over the last drop of unexpended capital.

Parents continue to send their children off to school so they may chase eventual careers that are both environmentally destructive and personally meaningless.

So for the most part life just goes on.

Even so, I continue to have great faith in the human experiment.

I continue to have great faith in the love of parents for their children.

I continue to believe that at the end of the day meaningful solutions will be found.

I am not sure where my optimism comes from. History teaches me to be cautious on this point.

What I do know is that eventual solutions to our demise will be felt in the marrow of our being. I just cannot believe that our long evolutionary history has not trained us to overcome this crisis.

We are well equipped for our moment of truth.

Answers to human behaviour, to human conduct, will stem from the fact that we are a highly evolved species tied directly to the natural world.

As many thinkers have reminded us, we are shot through and through with wildness, we are inexplicably linked to the world around us.

And one day we will arrive at human behaviour as it needs to be.

While we are fairly certain about the destructive quality of the human species I believe we will be pleasantly surprised at our constructive abilities as well.

All parts of the human story have not yet been told. We have a voice inside us that is still waiting to be heard. When we are finally able to tell the real stories of our deep evolutionary past I believe they will sound a lot like this coming-down rain, like this wind rattling the red and gold leaves from these trees.

Like it or not, we have an affinity for life.   

Gregory Heming is a writer and optimist living in Nelson, British Columbia.