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Excerpt from Endgame

We're Fucked. Life Is Good. (p. 331)

From chapter "Hope"

People sometimes ask me, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?”

The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time the understanding that life is really, really good. Not because we’re fucked, obviously, nor because of the things that are causing us to be fucked, but despite all that. We are fucked. Life is still good. We are really fucked. Life is still really good. We are so fucked. Life is still so good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate is our situation, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget it is possible to feel many things at once. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are that they may be forced to actually do something to change their circumstances.

Despair or no, life is good. The other day I was lying by the pond outside my home, looking up through redwood needles made translucent by the sun. I was happy, and I thought, “What more could anyone want?” Life is so good. And that’s all the more reason to fight.

Another question people sometimes ask is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?”

Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like parties. The second is that I’m having great fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what and whom we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify their inaction—the use of any excuse to justify inaction— reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q & A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to make them- selves feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does. He trotted out the old line about how the natural world doesn’t need our help. At least he averred that the natural world exists, as opposed to being the movement of some god’s eyebrows, but the end result was the same old narcissism.

I told him I disagreed.

He asked, “Doesn’t activism make you feel good?”

“Of course, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.”


“Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy stream bottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t matter to whether you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love. And if I don’t act to protect my landbase, I’m not fully human.”

A while back I got an email from someone in Spokane, Washington. He said his fifteen-year-old son was wonderfully active in the struggle for ecological and social sanity. But, the father continued, “I want to make sure he stays active, so I feel the need to give him hope. This is a problem, because I don’t feel any hope myself, and I don’t want to lie to him.”

I told him not to lie, and said if he wants his son to stay active, he shouldn’t try to give him hope, but instead to give him love. If his son learns how to love, he will stay active.