The Climate Strike yesterday, it has been reported, brought four million people to the streets around the world, including a quarter million in New York City, where Greta Thunberg, the Strike's author and inspiration, marched.
Four million people. Not too long ago, it was just her:
She couldn't have possibly imagined what lay in store for her.
That photo is deeply moving to me, because her despair and anguish and isolation are on display for all to see. I'm certain that, sitting there, she felt many times that what she was doing was hopeless and pointless; and I'm absolutely certain that she was told that it was hundreds of times by the herd, be they passersby, classmates, even so-called friends and perhaps even family.
This young woman is a genuine hero. But then, so are all who take the Narrow Path, even if they never succeed, even if they never get the kind of attention Greta and her cause have elicited, even if they remain totally obscure. It's the Path that matters, and the walking on it. Because once someone does, truly does, they won't leave it. That's the measuring stick, the ultimate litmus test of their character and their intentions. If they leave the Path, they were never on it in the first place.
I have no doubts about Miss Thunberg. None whatsoever. This photo is all the faith I need in that declaration. She's here to change the world, and I'm right there with her.
Which brings me back to the herd.
Let's do a little math, shall we? Four million people marched yesterday around the globe. According to the World Population Clock (at the time of this writing), the human species numbers approximately 7.732 thousand million. In other words, just slightly more than five one-hundredths of one percent of the world population marched, which is roughly one person in every two thousand.
I didn't march yesterday, but earlier in the week I did participate in a significant way. I am certain there were others who didn't march as well Friday, but did participate in some significant way: they wrote their representatives and senators and other political leaders; they donated time, money, or both to related causes; they wrote original essays and took original photographs and posted them; they talked to family and friends--and not just cursorily, but substantively, with intent and feeling; they volunteered around the community; they fasted and prayed; they committed to cleaner, more sustainable practices and actually followed through, and are following through today; and so on.
So let's add them into the grand total, because the truth is, they belong there. Let's say that when we do, the total goes from four million to eight million, or roughly one in every thousand human beings.
Nine hundred ninety-nine out of every thousand human beings did not participate in yesterday's protest against global climate change and the institutions, corporations, and people who are profiting from it. Global climate change, which is threatening all life on Earth.
So here's my question to the 99.9% of you who didn't participate. What the fuck were you doing that was more important than protesting the end of all life on Earth?
Some of you have an excuse: you were dying, and are now dead. Or a relative or friend was dying and required your undivided attention. You're a refugee fleeing oppression in a war-torn land. You're an immigrant doing the same, and have run headlong into the Trump administration. You were having a child, and the labor lasted a week. You were involved in an accident of some kind and are incapacitated in some significant and relevant way.
You get a pass. Whatever your crisis, I hope that it resolves to your highest good and the highest good of all concerned. There you go.
But what about the rest of you, hmm? What's your excuse?
Don't bother. I'm not listening. Nor will I ever. With a strong degree of certainty, I can say this about you. If you have children, you don't love them. If you have a wife or a husband, you don't love them either. You don't love your friends. If you have pets, you don't love them. You are a cog, an automaton, or, to keep with my earlier, more biological motif, you're a goddamned herd animal. Stronger proof of that statement, I truly believe, isn't available. Your inaction speaks infinitely louder than your words.
The end of your nose is where reality stops. The short term is all that truly matters. Consumption is your mode of being, if I can be so loose with my language. Because you aren't a being, truly; you're an unbeing. You're the problem. You're part of the plastic flotsam killing the Pacific Ocean. You're billowing out the smokestacks of the factories surrounding your city. You sleep well at night. What the fuck do you care? You won't be around in half a century anyway!
You don't feel guilt about your immoral position because nine hundred ninety-nine out of every thousand humans quite clearly feel the same way! Morality, after all, is defined by percentages. If most people believe something is okay, then it is okay!
As a writer, I realized something a long time ago. Here it is.
If the Galactic Empire existed today, right here, poof! here it is, we're part of it, 99.9% of you would be comfortably numb citizens within it. Which means, by dint of your inaction, that you would necessarily oppose the Rebel Alliance trying to bring it down, trying to save the universe.
It makes me laugh every time I go to see the latest installment of the franchise. Sitting in the theater, looking around, realizing that everybody around me would, were the Galactic Empire real, be willing cogs within it, unwilling to protest it, unwilling to stand up to it, unwilling to fight it.
That's almost certainly (99.9% certain) you, too.
This world is being destroyed by true and actual "Death Stars": ExxonMobile, Monsanto, Big Lumber, Big Pharma, Big Retail, Big Banks, governments devoted to lining the pockets of billionaires, governments devoted to fascistic ideologies, governments devoted to totalitarianism of a different stripe (hi, China!), and on and on and on.
You probably work for one of those entities. Or you consume their products without care or conscience. Or both.
We don't need a motherfuckin' Galactic Empire. We've got the equivalent right here, right now, that's just as awful, just as evil. And yesterday 99.9% of you, by your inaction, declared, loudly, proudly, and very clearly, that you support it.
We don't need Stormtroopers. We've got people like you.
Go back to minding your herd, or getting in line with the other cogs, or downloading the newest directives from your overlords at Automata Central, asshole. And enjoy this world while it's still livable. Which, because of you, it won't be for much longer.
Hope the kiddies you don't love don't mind.