Recently a small store opened in my neighborhood, selling the souvenirs that is all that is left here of a once rather vibrant Wiccan community. Now we have Disney witches, stripped of their original terrifying power, bath salts and candles, all to reappear in force on Halloween. Our sources of power are so often watered down if not eliminated; it’s a sign of these times that one of the many cheery signs in this store suggests, “Everything goes better with a little bit of magic.”
This could be applied to our avoidance of the climate disruption rolling fiercely toward us. Eleven years left until the rising oceans flood islands and coastal communities. Now it’s ten years.
Naomi Klein’s newest book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (Simon & Schuster, $27.00) doesn’t go in for magic. She lays out in clear terms the results of our undiminished use of fossil fuel, here in New Mexico exemplified by vastly increased drilling in the southern part of the state, piling up billions in this poor state’s coffers to be used for essential funding for our public schools. No attention is being paid by our politicians, including our entire congressional delegation, to the further destruction of the environment this will cause, added to the enormous amount of waste created by the nuclear labs at Los Alamos, now under contract from the Federal Government to increase their pit production from thirty a year to sixty.
Klein ends her description by insisting that she doesn’t feel hopeless, because, she writes, “…it is not only our planet that is on fire. So are social movements rising up to declare, from below, a people’s emergency. In addition to the wildfire of student strikes, we have seen the rise of Extinction Rebellion…the Sunrise Movement, and the fossil fuel divestment movement, which succeeded in getting $8 million in investment wealth to get to commit to selling off its holdings in fossil fuel companies…” and many more youth-led eruptions that are hard to ignore or put down. She points out that these new grassroots movements draw their widespread support from circles that reach beyond self-identified environmentalists and climate activists—in other words, the world.
Or at least the world of young people.
Those activists like me who have spent decades working in various fields for social justices are, I think, right to assume that this new young militarism is drawing on our work of many decades. We taught women to speak up; we urged organizing. All of our now forgotten efforts are fueling this fire, which Klein calls The Third Fire.
Reason to hope, but not to believe in magic.