September 06, 2011
"This Addiction is Going to Kill Us in the End": Clark Strand's Twelve Step approach to our environmental crisis
What will it take to restore us to ecological sanity? In his "Green Bodhisattva" columns that have appeared in Tricycle, Clark Strand has attempted to answer this question by adapting the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to our environmental crisis. Step by step, one per issue, he has outlined the first third of the path over the last year. But because there is no time to waste on the matter, the remainder of the Twelve Steps will appear here on tricycle.com. Over the next twelve weeks, Strand will explain the path in its entirety. For those of you who might have missed the "Green Bodhisattva" columns in the magazine, we'll begin today with the first step.
Step one of our ecological recovery, Strand tells us, is to admit that we are powerless over our addiction. What, exactly, are we addicted to? Strand offers an answer in "The Path of Recovery," from the Winter 2010 issue of Tricycle.
We are headed for a fall as a species, and it seems that all we can do is watch. Some say our imaginations are not big enough to take in the full scope of the catastrophe—the extinction of up to one half of Earth’s plant and animal species by century’s end. Others claim that we can’t help ourselves. We’re sick, addicted to everything from petroleum products to that ubiquitous soporific we call “media.” They’re killing us. Still, we remain stuck to them like glue. Of the two explanations, addiction seems more apt. Our imaginations are better than ever. They tell us that we can invent our way out of this problem, that by digging the hole of human progress just a little deeper, somehow we will come out on top.
Humanity is drunk, blind drunk, and even now is in the process of spending all the money and burning down the house. It blacks out after its worst excesses and can’t remember a thing. Faced with the wreckage in the morning, it will sometimes admit to itself “I did this” and feel some remorse. What follows, invariably, is a feeling of shame and the desire to compensate in some way. But that only adds more human culture to the mix, which in turn further feeds our addiction. We write books or make movies; build faster computers or better phones; try to cure cancer, hunger, or poverty; and hold summits of various kinds—anything to deny the certain knowledge that lies like a dead weight at the bottom of everything we say or think or do: This addiction is going to kill us in the end.