Speaking as someone who wasn’t a member of the Cult of Trump and was emotionally unsettled (if not outright traumatized) by the entirety of his presidency, every single year since 2016 has seemed like yet another year in which we as a species are slowly shambling zombie-like to our demise. Runaway climate change, environmental collapse, the rapid conversion of the GOP into a quasi-fascist political party that actively undermining our democracy, the rise of fascism around the world, a nearly two-year long pandemic showing no current signs of ending soon, the ever increasing wealth inequality, an accelarating, already out-of-control plastic pollution crisis… It’s damn near impossible to believe that we’re not in some kind of slowly unfolding, inexcorable collapse of human society as we know it.
I wish I could be optimistic about the coming year — I truly do. Instead, I’m feeling rather nihilistic about not just about 2022, but for pretty much the entire future. As bad as all all current problems are, so long as climate change continues to be inadequately addressed, solutions to the other issues simply don’t matter. Even if all of humankind collectively decided to immediately do everything possible to combat climate change, it will still take decades before CO2 levels start dropping. Even more daunting: we actually don’t have a solution yet for all the methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas) being released into the atmosphere as all the permafrost in Russia and North America defrosts.
I think back to my teenage years, and the fact that I was convinced that the world was likely going to end in nuclear war. During that time, I frequently had nightmares about it happening, and the nightmares all evolved out of the fact that I somehow survived the initial exchange — because that was a fate far worse than being incinerated instantaneously in a nuclear explosion. The morbid relief at the notion that it would all end in an instant made that apocalyptic scenario oddly more acceptable than the one currently unfolding. The individual and institutional forces that have created this mess have become so powerful that I don’t see how any of those who are profiting from this slow-motion disaster will accept any changes that will actually address these problems. That kind of leap would involves sacrificing far too much of their own power and wealth. The selfish, short-sighted, tribalistic tendencies of our species are just that unyielding.
I truly wish I had a way of properly coping with this. Instead, my solution to maintaining at least a semblance of sanity is to simply keep finding joy, comfort, and happiness where I can with those I love and in the immediate world around me. Do that, and try my best to be kind and courteous to everyone (something that’s becoming progressively harder in a world where so many proudly don’t give a fuck about the feeling of anyone whom them deem as “other” and deliberately go out of their way to antagonize them.)
In other words, make the best that you can of the world you’re in. The airplane is going absolutely down. So after you don your own oxygen mask, do your best to help your fellow passengers put theirs on before impact. Then, simply hope for the best.