In indignation at the snide disrespect being shown to my generation (via the ‘ok Boomer’ social media catch-cry), I published my previous blog stating at the outset that I did not want to take the bait and fuel the animosity and then I proceeded to swallow the bait whole and throw gasoline on the debate (if you will excuse the awfully clumsy mixing of metaphors) with graphs, pictures and commentary.
In reflection, when my indignation was appeased, I did have to accept that the millennial generation is not too dissimilar to we baby boomers in our youth. They are genuinely frightened of catastrophic pollution and the impact on their generation just as we were equally genuinely frightened of catastrophic nuclear war and the impact on our generation.
Of course we are not the only two generations to have our demons of fear. The generations prior to ours had the terror of another world war or another global depression or another global pandemic like the Spanish flu. And on and on it goes back in time right to about 12,000 years ago when the biblical flood, which is gaining increasing geological support, engulfed the known world and almost entirely wiped out humanity. Fear is the one common challenge that all humans have had to deal with throughout the generations.
We use the phrases ‘love’ and ‘hate’ so loosely that it becomes difficult to sit down and define exactly what we mean when we use them. In practical terms the states of love and hate are rooted in ‘faith’ and ‘fear’. The greater our fear is, the closer we come to this state we refer to as ‘hate’. And on the other side of the coin, the greater our faith is, the closer we come to the state of ‘love’.
When we have a fear of someone or something we move from a state of disliking that thing or person progressively through to a point where we are in terror and that is when we reach the state of hate. At the ultimate point of fear, we are facing our primal demon and we feel absolutely dispirited.
On the reverse side of the coin, when we have faith and trust in a person, an organisation, place or situation we grow in our love for that place, situation, organisation or person. At the peak of our love scale we feel a connection which we describe as spiritual.
The nuclear threat today is no less than it was fifty years ago, so why do we no longer angst so much about it? Why is it not first item on the agenda of every UN meeting, the lead story in all media? Quite simply because we no longer fear it. The threat technically is still as real as it ever was, the President of the USA even recently threatened it, but still we do not fear it. We have, over time, developed moderate to strong faith that no nation would ever use nuclear weapons on another because it would mean mutual destruction. That no one person would ever truly have complete control over a decision to actually launch global nuclear war.
Faith in human ingenuity, human survival instinct, human spirit or in a greater cosmic power that intervenes in the affairs of men all contribute to reducing the state of communal fear and allowing humans to embrace a cooperative and creative approach to global problem solving. For it is this very essential gene unique to homo sapiens that has distinguished us from our close cousins the great apes and the rest of earth’s animal kingdom, to which we fundamentally belong.
Possibly the most authenticated case of a contemporary near-death experience is that of Anita Moorjani. In February 2006 Anita recovered from an end-of-life coma, during which all her organs were shutting down, and recalled her experience in that state of receiving a message to ‘go back and live your life fearlessly’. Within five weeks her stage 4 cancer had completely vanished. Anita now leads a full, positive and energetic life and appears to have attracted to herself tens of thousands of positive, life-affirming people; Anita has complete faith that all is unfolding as it should. A successful and joyful life is totally dependent on our decisions as to how to relate to others. We cannot help people who are living in a state of fear by joining them in that state. That only feeds the fear and accelerates the path to despair. The only help we can give is to be a living beacon for the other path. The path of faith leading to a state of love of life.
And today, even when ecological fear permeates the environment, there is a beacon of hope; and hope brings faith. A young man who is as fearless and creative as Greta Thunberg is frightened and helpless. His name is Boyan Slat and he was born in 1994, so he is a millennial, but just click here see what this young man has done. He established this “Ocean Cleanup” enterprise when he was just 18 years old and got it started with a $2million crowd funding effort.
What a pity Greta Thunberg did not talk about Boyan Slat when she got the chance at the UN. Greta Thunberg’s speechwriters, who made such a big point about her sailing to that conference across the ocean as her ‘save the planet’ contribution, did not once promote Boyan Slat’s impressive entrepreneurial work to clean up the ocean that she had just sailed on. On the contrary she proclaimed, on behalf of the millennial generation, that solutions were nowhere in sight. The fear is turning to terror and that path leads to the gates of hell on earth.
Boyan Slat is a beacon offering the alternative path. He offers faith in the survival instinct and creativity of home sapiens to do what homo sapiens have done for 200,000 years. Solve the problem they face, clean up the oceans, clean up the rivers.
Boyan, from an old boomer, ‘I love you, man.’