Recently, while nursing a cold, I binged the excellent Our Planet series on Netflix (narrated by the awesome David Attenborough, who is to nature flicks what Jesus is to candles). I came away with a commodity that’s in somewhat short supply these days, and that’s optimism. Yes, optimism.
You know how it is with nature documentaries. Sooner or later, in every freakin’ episode, there’s a point where it’s obvious—another beautiful, elegant ecosystem getting horribly screwed up by people. The endangered wetlands, for example, are never getting threatened because there’s too much muskrat poop in the water. It’s always about mankind and some horribly wretched toxic slob behavior that’s gone completely haywire, which seems to be a specialty of our species.
But there was a segment on Our Planet about Chernobyl, of all places, that blew my mind with inspiration. Indeed, it was so inspirational that the producers wisely chose it to be the last segment of the entire 8-hour series, because the message is just so doggone positive. I mean, here is this City of Total Doom. You simply can’t have a bigger disaster than Chernobyl, a place soaked in The Worst Poison Ever, soaked so badly that all the humans had to pack up and GTFO. And sonuvagun, if that didn’t turn out to be Nature’s cue to move in, set up shop and get down to business. And when the cameras returned to this Voodoo Meltdown Hellhole 35 years later, they found … trees. Growing all over the place. Bushes. Shrubbery. Bunnies and deer and goddang wolves running around, eating the plants and each other. It’s a lesson we see played out time and time again. You give animals and plants a place, no matter how crappy, and you get the humans out of there, and bingo! Nature absolutely loves it! Even in some nuclear dump shithole like chernobyl, fercrissake. The sheer resiliency of life on our wondrous planet is breathtaking.
There are a lot of kids in America and Canada and Peru and Kenya and Spain and Greece and India and Korea who want to be nice to polar bears and bats and coral. All the kids who are gung ho ho ho and ready to love this wounded planet. There are a lot of Greta Thunbergs out there, and they just might be capable of something good. Something really good. It’s quite easy to envision The Momentum swinging over to these kids. I’m not gonna put it past ’em. Are you kidding?
Times change. Momentum shifts. Pendulums swing. Sooner or later. Shit happens.