Truly Opening to the Reality of Climate Change

I am on a flight to a conference of sorts and have been reading an advance copy of Taylor Hawke’s Waking Up. I am in a chapter on the devastating realities of the climate-change crisis— where we already are and our disastrous, high-velocity trajectory. I am aware of more recent data on fracking and methane, which had not made it into the writing he cites on CO2 emissions.

I am reading fast—my job is only to take this material in enough to write an endorsement for the cover. I feel my denial—no, technically the psychological defense is “compartmentalization”—as I try to simply take in the factual overview as evidence for my own thesis that we need a revolution in this country, peaceful but real, if we are to survive.

Do I dare drop my defenses and allow myself to be truly affected by the reality I am reading about?

The airplane I am on is 10,000 feet up, descending towards Houston. For a moment, I close my eyes and imagine that we have just learned that this is not a controlled descent; we are going down and will all die. It’s not that dramatic, just a very simple, albeit unexpected, reality. My heart begins to open—to my fellow passengers, my loved ones (which I now realize includes those I normally think of as just friends), myself, humanity.

Then something in me changes the meditation. The crash isn’t quite inevitable. It’s only coming because armed highjackers have taken over. I know in my body that I must act , and the need to do so comes from the same love I felt a moment ago. And even as I confront the highjackers and inspire others to join me, I know that I must face even them and their twisted logic with something closer to love—very tough love to be sure—than hate.

Eyes open now, with Taylor’s book in front of me, I recognize that we may still all go down in flames—or not. I don’t know. But my defenses to truly taking in our situation have dissolved, at least for the moment.

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