Did you hear the one about the guy who drilled a big hole in his lower level ship stateroom till it filled with water? When asked by his outraged shipmates why he did it, he replied, “This is my room, I paid for it, I can do whatever I want.” The ship sank.
We are, all of us, on that ship. Drilling holes without regard. Puffing our chests and saying, “this is my room, I paid for it, I can do whatever I want.”
Yes, we can do whatever we want. But there is a price to pay. Because our actions cause reactions. Because we are inextricably linked to everyone and everything. Like a row of dominoes. Like a Rube Goldberg contraption. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia causing a tornado in Florida.
We do not exist in isolation. Though we often act as though we do.
And sometimes–when given the chance—we see our interconnectedness.
Last week, I was hiking in the Sierras with two friends. The lake–our destination–was right there, feet away from us, when my friend shouted out in pain as she twisted her ankle and fell to the ground, wrenching her other leg. We didn’t have a cell phone, and even so, there was only spotty reception. One friend went back down the mountain, walking fast with intention. I stayed on the mountain with our hurt friend. After a time (who has any idea how long), a group of eight hikers and four dogs came around the side of the mountain. They had a cell phone. After many tries, they were able to get through to the sheriff. And they stayed until the helicopter arrived and my friend was safely on her way to the hospital. We never did learn their names. Or anything about who they voted for or what they think about climate change. But I did learn something about the kindness of strangers.
If there is a silver lining to climate change, it is this; we have an opportunity to recognize our shared humanity. We have an opportunity to pull together, embrace our differences, and patch the holes in our sinking ship.