I keep being presented with the concept of societal and earthly death. Finding myself in a class that is intending to work out the problem of invasive species in Florida, it seems the entirety of my reading this week has been focused on the beginning of the end of the world.
Apocalyptic thoughts are not uncommon across societies, in changing times and in changing places. We often – and it can be documented, open any history book – think that we are the pinnacle, the end to civilization and life, itself. We believe that we are so very important, that we – the race – can extinguish all semblances of life on earth. Look at 1800s Jehovah’s Witnesses, convinced that the world was ending. Even the Mayans predicted the end of the world for December 21, 2012.
We are not that important. At least, to extinguish all life. We may wipe out a good portion of it. But when we’re gone, the microscopic organisms, certain macroscopic organisms – plants, fungi, some animals – they’ll be happy we’re gone, and they won’t give a shit.
That is not to say conservation is unimportant. Indeed, conservation may be, in the end, what keeps a little bit of our sanity on hand. But, I somehow don’t think I’ll be alive for the worst, if things are going to continue to happen as they are. Nor will you.
What can we do? What should we do, as Pagans? In my tradition, we consider ourselves those individuals which will be the last to ‘go home’ – those who will lead the way for every other being before finding the way, ourselves. Yet, we are also watchers – not to interfere too deeply with the social karma or the karma of others unless directly asked. We are the priests – the mothers and the fathers – those who watch their children fall, then clean up their scrapes and cuts and send them on their way.
I think I’ve found my answer. Individual accountability.
Stop giving your yearly donations to the salvation army. Go feed the homeless.
Stop going to protests for abused women. Volunteer at their shelters.
Plant a tree.
Make a difference. A real, live difference, not a monetary or “internet petition” difference. Don’t donate money to “clean the streets” campaigns – do it yourself!
Maybe, that way, at least, when we ‘go home’…you can stand before the gods, and be proud of the life you have lived, the steps you have taken, even where you’ve stumbled.