Don’t Look Up or You will see the Truth

“Not everything needs to sound so goddamn clever or charming or likeable all the time. Sometimes we need to just be able to say things to one another. We need to hear things.” –Dr. Randall Mindy, Don’t Look Up movie

Have you watched the new climate disaster comedy film Don’t Look Up? I just saw it for the first time, and want to explain why I think you, and as many people as possible, ought to watch this exceptional movie. First of all, the film’s director, Adam McKay, wanted to make this film a comedy, instead of the usual climate disaster -horror films that are produced. The premise of the plot is that Professor Randall Mindy and his PhD student, Kate Dibiasky, discover a large comet which is almost certain to hit the earth in about six months, basically wiping out most life including humanity. They go to Washington D.C. and tell this news to the woman president (played by Meryl Streep), who along with her lacky son, is unimpressed, being much more concerned with the latest scandal her administration is dealing with. The rest of the film revolves around Dr. Mindy and Kate going through all the stages of grief, shock and finally acceptance of the comet’s approach, while continuing to attempt to warn  everyone about what is coming. 

This movie has a lot of social commentary woven through it, which makes it wickedly funny and also holds up a mirror to where human society is at in 2022. I think the film does a great job at showing our current political idiocy, highly controlled media scenarios (including a wicked personality played by Cate Blanchett), and even a character who seems to be a spin off of Bill Gates-Jeff Bezos insane multibillionaire. There’s also an appearance by Ariana Grande, who plays a weirdly comical version of herself as a mega superstar singer. If you pay close attention while watching it, you are sure to find all the archetypes of our time somewhere in the two hours plus that the movie runs.

Dr. Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, represents the Everyday Scientist who realizes that humanity is about to be destroyed, and when he and Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) attempt to warn the people of Earth, are met with such disregard and disrespect that it’s darkly funny as well as tragically sad. Here is a clip from one of the best scenes in the movie, a heart wrenching monologue by Dr. Mindy.

Dear Readers, we know that the best films are the ones that show us to ourselves in the most accessible way for the most people to understand. I recommend Don’t Look Up as one of those films. As the new year of 2022 gets underway, the Earth changes and extreme climate events continue. While our supposed leaders spend their time navel gazing and concerned with their own political power and wealth, our world is spinning closer and closer to catastrophe on a scale no one alive has ever experienced. Don’t Look Up is based on real science by astronomers who spend years working out climate models and predictions for the foreseeable future. The years we’re living through are exhausting us all, and by now we’ve seen so many climate disaster films that we are at saturation level. The humor and spot-on characterizations in this movie help to be able to stomach watching Dr. Mindy and Kate as they shout out their warnings in vain.

I hope you will take the time to watch Don’t Look Up, and allow its message to percolate within your heart and mind. It’s still not too late for humanity as a whole to come together to change our trajectory towards extinction. As the movie depicts, it will certainly be a messy ride.

World Savers and New Earth Bringers

There is an ancient story from Jewish mysticism that tells of “36 humble righteous ones” known as the Lamedvavnik (Yiddish: לאַמעדוואָווניק‎). The story says that at any given moment on Earth there are, at a minimum, 36 holy souls who are (without being conscious of it), holding up the world and preventing it from total destruction. For the sake of these 36 hidden saints, God preserves the world even if the rest of humanity has degenerated to the level of total barbarism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzadikim_Nistarim

In more recent times, many authors have woven this folklore into their own modern stories of humans wrestling with forces of darkness. There are those who have written of the numerological aspects of the number 36, fascinating in its own granular way. But I prefer to infer a larger meaning of the idea of a relative handful of souls who incarnate on Earth with the express purpose of keeping it aloft and intact. We all know of people in our lives and communities who seem to have a little extra goodness, patience, and compassion than most. They are the ones who offer a smile, a hand, a joke, or perhaps even a hug when life feels unbearable. Humanity has always experienced difficult days, periods of duress and suffering. Fortunately, the Lamedvavnik have always been there to help us push on through.

I just spent the past month reading The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson. It falls in the genre of Cli-Fi, and “hard science fiction” because Robinson did extensive research into both the very real and dire circumstances humanity is in related to climate disaster, as well as the many solutions being developed by scientists of all stripes across the globe. The result is a sweeping work of the imagination that offers a frighteningly possible world in the coming few decades.

This book took me a while to plow through because it is 563 pages and I’m not a fast reader. It is not a perfect book. After a shocking start and couple hundred pages of fascinating story, somewhere midway through comes a high point (not exactly a climax), after which the story tips dangerously into utopian fiction. I found I had trouble withholding disbelief from that point on, given the enormous scope of this work. However, it is definitely worth the time to read this expansive story of climate catastrophe and the What-If scenarios that Robinson eloquently devises in response.

There are a few main characters in this novel. One is Frank May, whose story of inconceivable trauma is the lynchpin upon which the rest of the story revolves. As he strives to deal with his PTSD life, his thoughts wander.

He pondered what he might do. One person had one-eight-billionth of the power that humanity had. One eight-billionth wasn’t a very big fraction, but then again there were poisons that worked in the parts-per-billion range, so it wasn’t entirely unprecedented for such a small agent to change things. (Robinson, pg. 65)

Frank is caught between his inherent desire to help, to be of service to humanity, and the intensity of the world’s horror. Robinson writes,

He could feel it burning him up: he wanted to kill. Well, he wanted to punish. People had caused the heat wave, and not all people…there were particular people, many still alive, who had worked all their lives to deny climate change, to keep burning carbon, to keep wrecking biomes, to keep driving other species extinct. That evil work had been their lives’ project, and while pursuing that project they had prospered and lived in luxury. They wrecked the world happily, thinking they were supermen, laughing at the weak, crushing them underfoot. (Robinson, pgs. 65-66)

The Ministry for the Future is a sweeping, long look at how climate catastrophe might unfold, while also the personal story of a small group of humans who, like the Lamedvavnik, work to alleviate the worst consequences, to turn the massive ship that is Climate Catastrophe from completely wrecking the planet, the animals, and the people of Earth. It is a story that is at once terrifying, fascinating, and idealistically possible, although admittedly a long shot. But clearly that is what Robinson was going for; offering a possible future for all of us where our planet does come back from the brink, where the majority of humans do wake up in time, and we are able to create a healthier future world for all life. Idealistic? Absolutely. And yet, reading this novel helped me to better imagine how it could all unfold in the coming decades. How we might still survive these extraordinarily painful times. How it cannot possibly be all sunshine and unicorns one fine day. I am not one to go in for dystopian future worldviews, because those scenarios paint such a bleak picture of Earth’s future that there is no hope in them. The future of Earth and of humanity are utterly intertwined. There are many Lamedvavnik, or world-savers, now alive on the planet. More are coming every day. It is an All-Hands-On-Deck moment for humanity. Will we wake up in time? Will we collectively do what must be done in order to move forward into the Light? To realize that the reality is we are all One Body, billions of grains of sand in the ocean of the Godhead, fractalized into uncountable bits?

Dear Readers, I wish you a blessed Winter Solstice and Holy Days of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Peace of the Void. Embrace the Light, Shine the Light, Be the Light.

References:

Robinson, K. S. (2020). The Ministry for the Future. New York, NY. Orbit. Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Wikipedia (2021). Tzadikim Nistarim.

Pandemic Diaries, part 4; and Resources to Help

 

Covid-questions-The Daily_NYTimes
Photo credit: Questions from a 9-year-old in Chicago who hosts “The Show about Science.”Credit…Bianca Giaever/The New York Times

In the week that has passed since my last update, life has become increasingly paradoxical—on the one hand, personal reality has become strangely quiet and predictable, while on the other, we collectively continue climbing up the roller coaster in anticipation of the moment when we all begin screaming in earnest. Perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, and yet, I’m sure many are feeling similarly about now.

Being a news/prose junkie, I have read/listened to a lot of information and intel over the past week about Covid 19, New York’s crisis, the drama which unfolded on Capital Hill surrounding the unprecedented, 2 trillion dollar aid package by the US government, and yet more news stories. This weekend, I am at saturation level with mainstream news and am taking a break (as I hope are many of you also). I have consciously worked to turn off the news, put down the phone, refrain from checking the New York Times and NPR every couple hours. Instead, I’ve slept a lot, stared out my windows into the wide open sky, taken daily evening walks around my neighborhood, and noticed the stirring of spring all around. Crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, windflowers, and the first tulips are blooming in neighbor’s yards. Trees are getting ready to begin blooming soon. In a couple of weeks it will be Easter, a holiday that is near and dear to my heart as it ushers in full-on Spring. Renewal, rebirth, and reset—these are as real and important as the current crisis humanity is facing, and important to notice–perhaps more important than the latest body counts and infection rates of Covid 19.

I’d like to share a few resources with you, Dear Readers, that I have found comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Perhaps one or more of these wise people’s words will also help you in some way as you each navigate the current pandemic and its surrounding emotional roller coaster energies. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some articles, websites and YouTube videos. If you have found any resources you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section of my blog!

https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

Charles Eisenstein is a brilliant thinker, author, and maverick for a growing audience of people around the world. His essay on Coronavirus and its implications, just published on his website, will give you lots of food for thought. Reading it pushed several of my buttons, and I had to read it in sections. He never fails to make me think, and, ultimately, give me hope for our future.

https://www.shareable.net/series/coronavirus/

Shareable.net is a website devoted to highlighting ways that humans help one another in communities around the world. They have created a series of articles to show how people are helping each other (and ways that you can help your neighbors and community) during the coronavirus days.

https://bioneers.org/what-bioneers-are-saying-about-covid-19-zmaz2003/

Bioneers.org is a wonderful group of thoughtful, brilliant people who are dedicated to the work of creating a healthy, equitable, sustainable world for all of us humans and nature upon Earth. I highly recommend reading their articles, watching their videos, and listening to their podcasts regularly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/podcasts/the-daily/

The Daily podcast by the New York Times. This one is devoted to kids questions about the Coronavirus. Great information, plus sweet kid voices asking the questions.

https://www.youtube.com/

For those of you who can benefit from listening to a spiritual master, I’ve been watching this man, named Mooji, the past few weeks and find his teachings and advice very soothing and helpful. This link is to his latest message to humanity, and is highly recommended.

As we continue along the pandemic situation, with all of its challenges and frustrations, I wish each of you the courage, strength, and knowledge that you are here on Earth at this time because you are needed now. Continue to ground the light and love, and shine it out to all you meet, whether in person or virtually. Love, light and blessings to all.