I recently caught up with an old acquaintance who lives in Trinity County where he’s currently immersed in wildfire smoke. We lamented that our children will not enjoy late summer swims in rivers, playing outside for half the year, or know predictable weather. My friend shared that his son said, “The problem is people. People made this problem,” and my friend replied that he hopes their generation will come up with needed technological solutions to climate change.
Yes, some people made this problem. And many people have fought for a different world. And the tools we make are only so useful as who owns them and how we use them.
During these days of apocalyptic despair, I think of how our world was already destroyed. For my family, the water was poisoned, air made toxic, and nowhere was safe. Millions died and millions more suffered. Their world was destroyed, yet they are here and held onto enough hope to make me. We are making a home on land stolen from people whose worlds, ways of being, and relatives were actively sought out for destruction. They are still here with their songs, wisdom, and traditions. And as we watch Kabul crumble into bloody factions, some people are getting out, and some will stay and survive.
Watching scenes from Kabul’s airport reminds me of footage from the Fall of Saigon. Families desperate to leave. They couldn’t imagine what would happen next. My mom knows. She knows about the starvation, destitution, suicides, prison camps. War is often measured by number of deaths, but not the suffering. The suffering that spans generations. The boys sent off by their families to establish a better life, mere teenagers who may manage to survive. Some of my cousins didn’t. Their remains in the mighty Pacific. Some made it here, but fell to vices that were more comforting than the US public school system.
Some must wait. My friend’s brother-in-law tried to get out at the Kabul airport, but a suicide bomber attacked the facility. “There’s no systematic way of getting out. It’s just individual Marines who’ve decided to help people or not,” my friend relayed from his family.
We can survive so much, and it’s our duty as fellow human beings to do more than keep each other alive. It requires equity, humility, and collaborative action. No one and no energy-intensive technologies will save us. We must save ourselves by saving each other.
By the way, I’m moving these blog posts from weekly to every other week cuz ATL.