[The words of this sonnet are printed below.]
I recorded this poem in the summer of 2019 which seems like another world, another age of the world. It seemed then as if the worst of the climate crisis era was still ahead a decade or so. Now we are in it. This is what it looks like: tens of millions of climate refugees; the erosion of democracy and the rise of fearful autocratic entrenched nationalism; the rich grabbing more and the poor suffering more and inequity worsening; ever increasing ecological devastation; accelerating species extinction; and yes, pandemics and economic collapse and social upheaval. We are in it now.
Some of the wealthiest are trying to escape, as this poem suggests, but millions of people of all kinds are working hard to change the world to reverse and heal the damage we have done and create a global society that is just, equitable, sustainable, resilient and at one with all peoples and all nature.
This is “the Harder Task.” Thank you so much for all you are doing for that cause. Please make up your mind now to do even more, to give it all your time, energy and resources. This is the greatest struggle any generation has ever faced, and it will take even more dedication and effort than World War II. Choose an organization and join together with others, contribute what makes you feel good. Do what you love to do the best that you can do it for the cause. Thank you!
The Harder Task
Plop a banana peel into the compost
and watch the fruit-flies scatter through the room.
The bucket is their world, all else, the moon
and Mars and distant planets that will host
them till they can return. What distant post
can we fly to when our world meets its doom—
when asteroid zooms in, or human plume
or magma ash turns earth to ice or toast?
It seems we have two tasks to undertake:
first, finding places that will serve as well,
and how to get there. That task is unnerving.
The next one’s worse. Somehow we have to make
our life more worth the saving—learn to dwell
in kindness, love and beauty worth preserving.