Climate Denial Makes Sense when you Understand it is the First Step in the Dying Process
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
Yes, climate denial makes sense, for it is the first stage of the death process. Given that there is a lot of dying going on, and more to come, to not go through a stage of denial would actually be abnormal.
However the most helpful way to look at this dying is that it is about our way of life, our values, what we think is ‘right and true and important’ – all these cultural artifacts are dying. And good riddance to them.
We can say good bye to the illusion that we are all separate, that we act and think as we please without the realization that this affects others, that ‘others’ always includes all the plants and animals and bacteria that are part of who we are, that each of is ‘our brother’s keeper’, that there is no “I” without a “Thou” [Martin Buber] and that for me to survive and thrive I need you to do the same.
However, we have to get through this denial stage to be able to confront the death that is coming – this cultural death. What comes after denial? Anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The problem is that if we cannot eventually come to a state of acceptance we will have real, physical death. Death of many species, death of the coral reefs, death of millions of people, death of entire ecosystems that cannot adapt quickly enough to the changes now happening before our eyes. Real death.
Some of us have our eyes open and have moved beyond denial. Perhaps you are angry – that is OK, as long as you can move on. The trick is not to be judgmental of those who are stuck in denial [or anger, or depression] but rather your mission is to help them move on, to see death not only as the end of one thing but the also the beginning of another. In this case, the beginning of a potentially better human society that sees that all of us, and once again I emphasize by ‘us’ I mean all life, are brothers and sisters.