(from the novel A New Earth)
John looked at Aspen and Olivia’s merged silhouettes interrupt the vastness of his wall mural. It was a reminder that whatever humans do or say, however they act or feel, they will always be submerged within this ball of chaos: of waves, flames and debris that only the EoT itself can make sense out of. Only IT can find the power and the wisdom needed to control and resolve the chaos. The Earth is an orchestra that can only be conducted by the Earthnet of Things. Nobody else can ever tame it.
Yet a select minority of humans that possessed the Apocalypse Locus appeared to have the sixth sense that allowed them to synchronise themselves with the planet’s central operating system. Empathy is such a misunderstood emotion. It is often perceived as altruism, generosity, or a “charity” behavior – when it is in fact much broader than that. Empathy is about being able to link to the EoT: being able to escape your own ego, your own personal bias, and observe the world from above, objectively, without taking any sides. Only when you can see the world with all its “things” as a single unit do you realize that any individual force, any selfishness, is futile. It is eventually punished by its own actions: waves bring more waves that circle the earth and eventually crash into the first wave. Flames generate more flames which consume everything until there is nothing left to burn. Floods eventually drown into themselves as the landmasses turn into oceans.
Empathy is the realization that there were never any winners or losers on this planet. What you may gain one day, you lose eventually, including your own life. The very concept of ego, in fact, is invented. It is a construct. Ego doesn’t really exist. We are all connected: part of the same storm, the same flood. The same inferno. We are all floating pieces of debris on John’s wall, passing each other like ships in the night. We try to prolong the lifetime of our journey as much as we can, holding on to other pieces of debris that we’ve met along the way, for as long as possible. Until the next storm.
It was already way past sunset down at the beach, and the rocks were beginning to merge with the bushes into one big dark blob against the cold, white sand. Aberash summoned the diverse group of Minimalists, Buddhists, Refugees, Earth Pagans and Techno-Hippies over the rocks and into the small lagoon that was half-hidden past the end of the beach. The bioluminescent phytoplankton was especially concentrated here, thriving in the calm waters. It was lighting up the rocks all around the lagoon, reflecting on Aberash’s face as she contemplatively looked into the water, trying to connect with its energy. Her thin, white cotton dress floated on the surface behind her as she walked deeper and deeper towards the center of the lagoon. Across the hill, the sound system that the Revelers had permanently installed was pulsing hypnotic ambient trance beats that seemed to accompany the procession. She kept walking until the water depth was about waist-level, at which point she stopped and turned around to face the group of participants. Her eyes quickly scanned the rocks, trying to get a measure of the size of the crowd. Over the past few days the group had grown dramatically: from the usual twenty or so standard followers to a good hundred, sometimes hundred and fifty. It was a number that had begun to grow notably since the bioluminescent variant had arrived at the beach. Aberash made a gesture to the Revelers to turn down the music, and began to deliver her sermon:
“We have gathered here tonight once more, surrounded by hope. Surrounded by life. Surrounded by a planet that doesn’t want to give up, no matter what we do to it. We are living extraordinary times: these are times of grief, as species that have been with us for millions of years continue to perish daily, disappearing forever as they become cosmic dust – the same dust that all of us are made of.”
“But these are also times of hope, as new species rise out of the ashes, out of the life-giving ocean we all came from. More and more humans are gradually waking up from sedation. They are waking up from the selfishness and greed that had made them blind to their own self-destruction. They are waking up from the glycemic coma of consumption and addiction that their own civilization had made them dependent upon. They are waking up to find, that they can be happy without needing to achieve “goals”, to “build things”, to own “stuff”, to be owned and dominated in turn by employers, mortgages, consumer brands, salaries and corporations that are part of the Planet Destruction Machine. Our civilization has become a monster: it is destroying our environment, and it is using each and every one of us individually in order to achieve this goal.”
“They may still be a tiny minority, but these humans are beginning to realise that they simply ARE part of the surroundings that they destroy. They ARE the natural environment that they patronizingly admired. But they are only a tiny fraction of it. They are nothing but a small brushstroke, a dot within a much bigger and colorful painting. Each dot on the painting is a species on the planet. It has no meaning by itself. But when the dots come together in different groups and colors, they create shapes and shadows: they create a picture of the world.”
“Human civilization has so far been erasing this world, one dot at a time. Without the other dots in the picture, our existence will have no meaning. There won’t be any shapes in the painting anymore. Just a few, scattered dots”
Aberash raised her voice as she looked up into the crowd:
“So join me! – as we grieve for all that we have already lost, and at the same time hope for whatever may come next. As we revolt against this failed civilization, and at the same time pensively accept its demise. As we look into ourselves, each of us on their own, and find the EoT inside of us. We find the empathy and we hold on to it tenderly, sheltering it in our hand like a candle in the wind”
Aberash reached out for the floating tray next to her. She grabbed a lighter and one of the white candles and lit it up in front of the audience. Sheltering the flame with her hand, she held it high and addressed the audience:
“Tonight we pray again for our Home. We pray for Earth. We pray for the 2.2 million species left on our planet”
(from the novel A New Earth)
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books