It’s been a perfect summer so far. The occasional rain has taken the sting out of the expected drought, which resulted in thousands of forest fires over the past couple of years. ‘What’s with this haze? ‘I said when I joined my friend Camp at our watering hole on the Gibsons harbour.
‘Apparently it’s from the massive forest fires in Siberia’ which have consumed over 13 million acres this year alone, an area larger than Greece,’ he said. ‘Putin sent in the army and even Trump offered to help fighting the blaze.’
‘What do you make of the demonstrations every weekend in Hong Kong?’ I asked Camp who shook his head.
‘It’s not going to result in any kind of extended freedoms or democracy for the territory. My guess is that the protest will turn more radical which the central government in Bejing will not tolerate and the mass demonstrations will fizzle out.’
‘Have the citizens of Hong Kong gained anything?’
‘Not really, except the world’s attention. I would wager that many Hong Kong citizens are trying to leave the territory, especially before the two state status expires by 2047.’
‘That’s a long time away,’ I said, ‘and the world will be a different place.’
‘The young people in Hong Kong have a dream, not unlike the dreams we had in our twenties. Remember it’s been exactly 50 years since Woodstock.’ Camp said, taking a healthy swallow from his pint. ‘A defining event for a whole generation and now they’re all in their seventies.
‘I remember, sort of, I said. ‘Coming out of adolescence in the late sixties I considered myself part of the, a dream, which was a world without national borders, everybody speaking Esperanto, no more wars, nor famines nor manmade disasters and genocides; no more assassinations of freedom fighters and presidents; a world where we would all live in harmony and unity, where we were all equal yet different and the music would play on. The theme song was Imagine.’
‘And our high priests were a kaleidoscopic cabal of pop icons like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Of those only one is still alive and he never considered himself anything else but a musician,’ Camp concluded my colloquy.
‘What happened?’ I asked rhetorically but Camp answered me anyway. ‘Well, as we all know Woodstock and the Vietnam war ended, an actor was elected president, then the millennial election was stolen and the financial system rigged to separate the cream from the milk and now we live in a world ever more divided into good an evil, just like in a Stephen King novel.’
‘The forces of evilseem to be winning. The environment is tilting towards catastrophic outcomes for mammals; the common wealth is ever more in the hands of fewer and fewer people, water and arable land are becoming scarcer and humanity is hurtling towards Armageddon. The dream has become a nightmare and it’s time to wake up,’ I said, finishing my pint drowning out the negative vibe. Camp did the same but was able to shift gears.
‘Let’s be clear: Planet earth is not in trouble, it’s us, the most successful species every to populate this small terrestrial body who is in peril. Here is what we know: Life – and us humans by extension – is dependent on an onionskin deep atmosphere, the sun – and our distance from it which makes liquid water possible and here is the clincher: Innovation, which raised homo sapiens from a helpless, furless mammal with no natural defenses and no hope in hell to survive to the most aggressive and clever bi-pod in the history of the solar system. Not the universe. I wouldn’t go that far. But let’s face it, what we have built over the course of about 50 millennia, is called a progress trap.’
‘A progress trap?’
‘Yes, while pursuing progress through ingenuity we inadvertently introduced problems – like accelerated warming of the atmosphere – for which we currently do not have the resources or political will to solve and which could lead to our demise.’
‘Because of our fear of short-term losses in status, life styles or quality of life,’ I said. ’But I’m not about to give up my fridge or car, my travel or creature comforts.’
Camp gave me a quizzical look. ‘It’s not just about you,’ he said. ‘The question is:Can we extricate ourselves from our manmade dilemmas like overpopulation, food and drinking water scarcity, and an overheating atmosphere?’
‘I certainly hope so, I said. ‘Let’s start with being nice to each other without looking for personal gain, be respectful of our differences and embrace our diversity. And listen to each other, I said, spotting Vicky who thankfully was on her way with two coveted refills.
‘Guess what,’ Camp said. ‘We’re all saying the same thing: We just want our children to have a good life, food to eat, water to drink and air to breathe.’
‘Keep the dream alive,’ Vicky said, having overheard Camp’s last remark.
‘Where there is beer, there is joy,’ she said with a one hand on her hip, ‘And where there is joy there is hope.’
‘Amen,’ Camp and I both echoed, toasting our clever waitress.