The animal that gave up the bountiful Earth

This is how I imagine the collapse.

Collapses don’t happen overnight. Much like creation, they take their time. They begin with whispered insinuations –like the small primal spark of light.

With destruction, the opposite happens: minuscule flickering black holes begin to swallow existence. At first, they vanish before you even realize they were there, like something happening at the corner of your eye. They follow the scintillating patterns of strobe lights–but in darkness. They take things, first, the ones that aren’t missed. Like the childhood toys we have forgotten all about and don’t even recognize when we see our past image in a photograph, smiling a toothless smile back at us holding an inflatable rubber mouse.

The Nothing they bring begins to get comfortable in its invisibility. It appears for longer intervals. It takes away whatever is on the outskirts. Lint at the back of our drawers, bad drunken jokes told late at a party, the woman that was waiting at the bus stop. The small vacuuming holes suck the life from Life, like leeches, without us ever noticing.

There is a sense of uneasiness, it’s true. But it’s never enough. We scratch it and distract ourselves with something else. Get used to the itch. Buy and ointment. We fail to see the itch is stage four melanoma and our ointment won’t do anything not help us.

The permafrost melted and awoke ancient monsters –viruses unaware of the passing of time and the frailty of our species. They joined our time on Earth and shared in our voracity. Our beloved microscopic soldiers curing all infection got overpowered and death rates began looking again like those from centuries ago.

Medicine was overtaken by incurable diseases spawning from the same system supporting the medical one. Chemicals causing cancer, also causing the development of new drugs, to cure or to run away, to solve the problems they had created in the first place. Chemicals making us crave, sugar or donuts or unhappiness. Us, making Us obese and sedentary and beyond salvation, because no medicine can cure the will to remain.

Humans got together, they touched and rubbed their arms in public transportation. They saw eyes staring back at them in all colors: black, brown, blue, green, hazel and grey. They approached cautiously, sniffling the perimeter. Then comfortably finding that a brown hand fits perfectly inside a white one. The same goes for genitals and the life that they bring. Healthy humans were born, in new colors and shapes. And they realized they fit just fine inside the arms and loving thoughts of others.

Except when they didn’t. And walls were not there for protection. The liberal discourse of equality and tolerance had rendered them all naked and ashamed, their intimacies bared for all to see. There was nothing left to do but resort to violence, raw human violence. Everyone became a bully. The dream of New World society of inclusion and the rediscovering of the Garden of Eden vanished. Everyone despised one another beginning by oneself, and violence took on its very different forms.

Collapses don’t happen overnight. The unimportants got swallowed at first. Their unimportance and their abundance made it unfathomable for the rest. They thought the Collapse was a matter of faith, not of facts. The poverty line extended and lowered and right before it hit the ground –right before starvation– it got propelled up by the countless numbers of people falling below it, surviving the unsurvivable.

The Collapse happened. Slowly. Then unhurriedly picking up speed. Markets crashed. What had they been anyway? Everyone owed money, or what we are now calling money, everyone had to somehow change some numbers on a screen into a different set of numbers on that same screen by means of their work. That would solve everything. The stress. The anxiety. The debts. The swarming debts that plagued rich and poor without distinction. If only, but if only I could buy that pair of shoes, that car, afford that vacation. If only my children could get an education. If only I could afford my health. If only I could stop switching these numbers on the screen into lower values… Wealth became elusive for most and overwhelming for very few, but in all cases destructive.

The hoarding system of capital and goods widened its social differences. We saw the subordinates climbing up towards us at first and then. No. We were descending towards them. We looked up and the people above us, on a pedestal, began to fall as the pedestal shrunk away. The ones on top engaged in a fearsome bloody fight to remain there, biting and ripping apart with teeth and nails the ears and eyes of their former companions. Throwing them over the edge towards the multitudes below.

Attempts were made. Well-intentioned heartwarming attempts. Some spare change was given to starving children. Some starving children were saved only to starve as adults, or get raped and beaten and murdered. Worldwide campaigns were organized to help the others. They gave away used clothes and made tear-jerking documentaries.
The Collapse kept happening anyway. It was like trying to cure a hemorrhaging femoral vein with a plaster, while simultaneously drawing out blood from the same body with a carefully sterilized needle.

The well-intentioned hearts broke a little but then turned to their smiling children playing safely with their electronics on a clean warm carpet, framed by a window overlooking the woods. The kettle boiling. Mangoes during winter. We have everything we need, be thankful, be aware, meditate on a recycled-natural-tree-rubber-overpriced mat, accept and embrace yourself, build walls to the keep the ugly out. Stay pretty.

The problem was never the system, they say. We accept. We act upon.

The problem is letting it affect you, they say. We accept. We act upon.

The main pillar is wealth. Not the kind that can be eaten, lived in, worn on our shoulders or used as a medicament. The main pillar is that which sets us apart and above from the rest. The expensive clothes as symbol of our importance. The sunglasses, the designer wallet, the expensive toys.

It was the lucky and adventurous that escaped the Collapse. Across the ocean fountains of wealth rained upon the land. Then the exodus of greed started. But they are barbarians. There is no life there. They told me. Yes, but they have so much money. I said. There is nothing not worth sacrificing for it. But the landfills, and the fumes, and the construction debris. It spreads around the world. It will add to the Collapse. It will, most surely. But not for me, or my children. We will have higher blinking numbers on a screen. The jungles will become the wastelands. Their life will be sucked out.

The desert is the future of the human species in so many ways. We are getting ahead of the race, we are pre-adapting for the time your beloved forests become dead and barren. You will starve and right before your last breath, you will see us marching upon your land. We will have haute couture dresses and ten-carat diamond rings. We will have learned to survive on a diet of sand. And then, even then, you will envy my possessions.

Dougie Wallace / INSTITUTE