Letter to the editor: ‘Melancholia’ begs climate change comparison
In Lars von Trier’s slow moving film “Melancholia,” wedding partygoers display opulent illusions of celebration amongst angst, betrayal and denial as the planet Melancholia hurtles toward an Earth destined to be imminently destroyed.
We are facing our own Melancholia. Every morning I get up, drink three shots of coffee with a little milk. Today the sun is shining, and it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit. We come together every day as if nothing is wrong, yet we are in dire need of a powerful, unified response. Despite decades of scientific consensus, despite polls including the most recent Pew Survey showed that a “majority of Americans said dealing with climate change should be a top priority,” we are thwarted by a deafening lack of moral and existential urgency by many elected leaders. Psychic denial and dissociation at an existential level are the root of this inaction.
What responsibility do we have to each other and all life on this planet? The model of dominion has made exploitation and progress at any cost a righteous endeavor, instead of a responsible and abiding faith that we are just one part of an immensely complex biosphere. Universal Responsibility and deep understanding of the interdependence of all things is our fundamental hope.
What will it take to get leaders to mobilize — how horrible and how frequent the disasters? How personal does it need to get? Inaction is a choice. A choice that denies the response needed to the very vulnerable that many say they want to protect. A choice that actually ensures that each climate intense event will dole out inequitable harm to those most vulnerable to it. Outwardly, willful climate inaction wears a concerned mask to our own Melancholia hurtling toward us, a mask that purports to protect Vermonters from the kind of change that a majority of us see with stark clarity MUST happen. In actuality, inaction will be devastating to all that we know and love, a devastation beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
When calamity strikes, Vermonters pull together whether the calamity is in our town, or another state. That’s who we are.
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” — Aldo Leopold. We don’t have to live alone in a world of wounds if we choose collective action over collective paralysis, denial and dissociation.
I am an elder, grandmother to many. I choose with dangerous hopefulness to plant trees whose shade I know I shall never sit in.
Rep. Mari Cordes, RN
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