Paul Gilding breaks our Great Disruption into three stages. The first he names The Scream, partly because of the shrill tone sounded by environmentalists and whole-planet-systems theorists, and partly in honor of Edvard Munch’s portrait, Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature).
Paul places the beginning of THE SCREAM period in the late 1950s, solidified by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, in 1962. It runs through today, and will end with THE CRASH, which Paul expects to arrive shortly.
I found myself surprised that Paul named our current period The Scream, and then surprised that I was surprised. An interesting ambiguity. Revealing, I think.
I ask myself, “Richard, don’t you think ‘The Scream’ is an apt name for this period? Haven’t you been in a state of terror?”
It’s a regular part of the human experience that in dreadful moments, like being abused as a child –but at many other times as well– we separate off a part of ourselves. We dis-associate our regular lives, where we are happy to see old acquaintances and other ordinary events, from the traumatic experience.
Yes, I was alarmed when first really got the significance of
- acid rain
- pesticides in most commercial food
- poisons in the ground water, in the fish in our rivers,
- hormones and antibiotics in most supermarket meat, and in our rivers
- the draining of the Ogallala Aquifer
- the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
- famous oil spills like the Exxon Valdes
- under-reported oil disasters like the Niger Delta
- storage of nuclear waste on a gravel bed in a flood plain, at Prairie Island
And that alarm deepened to a state of panic on each occasion, when I
- went to hearings
- wrote letters to the authorities
- went to demonstrations
- published my newsletter
- watched huge mobilizations I was not a part of
and nothing happened. Not really. Nothing happened that seemed anywhere commensurate with the seriousness of the situation.
- Was it me? Was I being “hysterical?”
- Was it “them?” Were my most paranoid acquaintances right: the world is run by rich and violent men who control all aspects of our lives, and hide that truth from us?
- Were the demonstrations I participated in “allowed” because they were ineffective?
- How could I really be effective?
- Would I become a target if I was?
Does “The Scream” apply to me, and those I worked with? Yes.
Does it apply to my sister, who never did any of these things, but followed my life from the relatively safe vantage point of small-town mom?
Well, we’d have to say her’s was a Silent Scream.
And looking back from now, my Scream seems silent too.
Panic. Dread. Shouting into a vast silence of profoundly inadequate response.
“I’m in trouble.
“Maybe it’s me, with a dangerously warped sense of urgency. Maybe it’s ‘them,’ controlling my life by whatever means necessary. Maybe it’s us, dumbed by an oil addiction, or simply biologically incapable of connecting the knowledge in our frontal cortex with the action centers of our brain.”
Bad trouble, for whatever reason, or combination of them.
And a trouble so quiet that when I saw Paul Gilding label the last 50 years as “THE SCREAM,” I asked myself