The jazz musicians played like always in Washington Square Park. A monarch butterfly floated overhead. I closed my eyes, sure it was a mirage. But when I opened them, the monarch rested on my skin.
The park was full of people. Nobody seemed concerned that it was 86 degrees. Not a single leaf had fallen. And the butterfly was nowhere near Mexico.
When I lived in Los Angeles, the plainness of seasons was a certainty. I never thought I’d find the same in Manhattan. I wondered whether the seasons had disappeared for good.
As if to rub salt in the wound, the trumpets played “Autumn in New York."
I looked down one last time and the mirage was gone.
Come Rain or Come Shine
Mainstream climate discourse is crowded out by narratives that seduce us with false certainty.
They tell us the future is locked in.
They rob us of our own imaginations and our sense that we can make a difference.
Apocalyptic narratives paralyze us. As if we're nothing more than spectators to the world's wanton destruction.
Utopian narratives anesthetize us. As if we don't need to worry. As if someone else has it all under control.
In both cases, the future is certain. There's nothing we can do. Or nothing to be done.
These stories have it wrong.
If we keep telling them, we lose the chance to connect with one another, and grieve, and understand, and find new ways of taking action. We lose the most important thing we have:
Our ability to dream, together:
to imagine different futures.
What kinds of futures can we imagine if we start, not from fake certainties, but from the uncertainties of everyday life?
How do we use imagination to make meaning from these uncertainties?
We need new stories. Better stories. Stories for the many and the one. For the short term and the long run.
Who is going to tell them?
We have to find ways to grapple with the entanglements of climate and capitalism; climate and colonialism; climate and sexism and racism.
We have to do this in ways that connect these issues to our everyday practices of hoping, creating, and caring.
We have to use our imaginations to bring our futures back to scales we can share: to imagine diverse, resilient, and creative climate futures. Together.