Hope: Danger’s Comforter

In the next few weeks, I will focus on hope as it pertains to the present climate disruption. This first meditation is from Thucydides. I offer it without comment, and suggest that the good reader to meditate on the text for an hour or so and try to express the ideas that come to mind. The portion I’ve selected is from the famous Melian Dialogue. This is the discussion in which the Athenians articulate the bald facts of perennial power-politics when they say to the Melians: “since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must (lines 87-89).” Here are the remarks that bear upon the question of hope:

Melians: “It were surely great baseness and cowardice in us who are still free not to try everything that can be tried . . . to submit is to give ourselves over to despair, while action still preserves for us a hope that we may stand erect.

Athenians: “Hope, danger’s comforter, may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources, if not without loss at all events without ruin; but its nature is to be extravagant, and those who go so far as to put their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only when they are ruined; but so long as the discovery would enable them to guard against it, it is never found wanting. Let not this be the case with you, who are weak and hang on a single turn of the scale; nor be like the vulgar, who, abandoning such security as human means may still afford, when visible hopes fail them in extremity, turn to invisible, to prophecies and oracles, and other such inventions that delude men with hopes to their destruction.

UK Parliament declares climate change emergency – less than a week after XR thrashes London

This from the BBC: “MPs have approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency.”

“This proposal, which demonstrates the will of the Commons on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act, was approved without a vote.”

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who tabled the motion, said it was “a huge step forward.”. . .

Addressing climate protesters from the top of a fire engine in Parliament Square earlier, Mr Corbyn said: “This can set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe.

“We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US President Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.”

“. Read more HERE (BBC) and HERE (Guardian) . . .

THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILISATION – from The Dark Mountain Project


Without mystery, without curiosity and without the form imposed by a partial answer, there can be no stories—only confessions, communiqués, memories and fragments of autobiographical fantasy which for the moment pass as novels.
John Berger, ‘A Story for Aesop’, from Keeping a Rendezvous

Isn’t this all we will ever have: the form imposed by a partial answer? If you are at all interested in the arts, please take the time to explore The Dark Mountain Project. Here are the eight principles of uncivilization as published in the Manifesto of The Dark Mountain Project:

‘We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.’

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilization: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

Tragedy in the Heartland: The American Farm Bureau and Climate Change

On March 16, a bomb cyclone slammed the Mid-West, flooding over a million acres of farmland.

“We’re talking about an event here of historic proportions, circumstances that nobody ever recalls ever happening in their lifetime,” said Steve Wellman, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture director and third-generation farmer.

Many farmers are still not able to work their land, and many will not be able to plant their crops this year because the land is too wet or still underwater. It may be years before the situation returns to normal—for some, perhaps never.

Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change, most farmers have been hoodwinked by the Farm Bureau and the fossil fuel industry. Inside Climate News published a thorough discussion of this tragedy HERE.

“In this series of articles, InsideClimate News explores how the farm lobby has wielded its influence to undermine climate treaties and regulations. In tandem with fossil fuel allies, it sowed uncertainty and denial about the causes of global warming and the urgency to bring it under control. Embracing taxpayer-funded subsidies to insure farmers against the mounting risks, it has nurtured an unsustainable consolidation of agriculture that discourages climate-friendly farming.”

Inside Climate News is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to covering climate change, energy and the environment.

There are always two voices

“At the advent of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the human heart: one very reasonably invites a man to consider the nature of the peril and the means of escaping it; the other, with a still greater show of reason, argues that it is too depressing and painful to think of the danger since it is not in man’s power to foresee everything and avert the general march of events, and it is better therefore to shut one’s eyes to the disagreeable until it actually comes, and to think instead of what is pleasant. When a man is alone he generally listens to the first voice; in the company of his fellow-men, to the second.” — Tolstoy in War and Peace (1849, 886), on the consequences for Russia of the French invasion of 1812.

As found in “Facing Up to Climate Reality: Honesty, Disaster and Hope,” John Foster