Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

A Climate of Grief

“Climate grief” is a daily companion of late. And not just in the narrow (albeit enormous) sense of capitalist-fueled ecological catastrophe. Like the fact that it’s snowing in May while the oceans are warmer than ever.

No, there’s a much more expansive, insidiously everyday grief that most people hardly seem to even take conscious note of because it feels so “normal.” Or shall we say “normalized.” Grief is stirred up continually by the whole climate—social, cultural, political—that surrounds people 24/7 these fascist days and nights, but it’s introduced in such bits and pieces that people become numb to it, as if “frogs in boiling water,” as the saying goes.

Or maybe they honor their grief in small, private, compartmentalized ways, seeing only their own losses. Not connecting the dots to the whole grievous climate they now inhabit—a climate that grows more heartless and deadly by the hour, as one place bans abortion, another serves up genocidal laws for trans people or immigrants, yet another is home to those who try to burn down mosques and synagogues, or the site of the umpteenth murder-by-cop and mass murder by a white Christian supremacist, and wretchedly on and on it goes.

One has to look close for signs of that “climate grief,” yearning—even if still inchoately—to gather with others for collective and rebellious mourning. Maybe a single tulip left on a bench in a garden, with what look like teardrops on the wooden seat? Maybe that person—so many other people too—aches inside and feels alone and knows that only “we keep us safe[r],” but has no idea where those kindred spirits are? All they see are tulip petals looking up at them as if kindred teardrops, as that person on a public bench ponders what feels like their own world falling apart, seemingly powerless to halt it.

Anarchists leave their own traces of grief. Flowers, yes. But usually objects that offer a sense of some communal agency, such as a humble sticker on stolen Anishinaabeg lands that cries out for less loss, more life, more of us being there for each other.

Our grief over the current climate is a crossroads: “mutual aid or mutual annihilation.”



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This entry was posted on May 2, 2023 by in Uncategorized.
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