Solace and obligation


I’ve read Brian Calvert’s essay “Down the Dark Mountain” (HCN, 7/24/17) twice now, and will read it again, along with some of Robinson Jeffers’ poetry. I can’t recall a more intriguing and exhilarating piece of environmental journalism.

Rare is the environmentalist who will acknowledge that we do not appear able to avert an ecocide, and confronting that grim truth is a necessary prelude to asking how we are to live in our time without falling into an abyss of despair.

A little humility goes a long way here. As suggested in the article, there is solace to be had in recognizing our insignificance in the cosmos: The astonishing beauty of this world was not born with us and will not die with us, and our lives can be meaningful even if we are not truly in control of our fate. Existentially speaking, I can think of worse deals. None of which is to say that we are not morally obligated to do our best to ameliorate the impending catastrophe.

Don Carolus 
Portland, Oregon

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