climate anxiety

Instructions for Living in a World on Fire

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIVING IN A WORLD ON FIRE

The other day, one of my publishers posted a picture of my book, Everything Isn’t Terrible, on social media. I try my best not to read people’s comments, but I couldn’t help but notice one:

The planet is BURNING, DROWNING, DYING! We need to STOP looking at ourselves, like the NARCISSISTS we are AND BE PROACTIVE about why we were put on this Earth.

While I appreciate the passion and urgency of ANGRY COMMENT person, I have to disagree with them. Looking at ourselves, and harnessing our ability to act outside the bounds of a panicked, reptilian brain, is exactly what makes us human. And it’s exactly what will save us and the planet from ourselves.

It’s a common sentiment these days that if you’re not angry or anxious, then you’re not paying attention. Perhaps this is true—it’s impossible to read the news and not feel fearful or hopeless. How we choose to respond to these facts, however, is more interesting to me than the degree of our panic. Because when we feel panicked about politics or the environment, often our reactions become more about relieving the anxiety we feel in the moment than about generating thoughtful, reality-based solutions to the world’s problems. (more…)