Subconscious Climate Fears and Social Anxiety
I dreamed a dream of climate fears
A drowned world of toxic tears
Collapsed structures caught in deluge
Where I find no place of refuge
Navigating wrecks of structures upended
A maze of filth in brackish water suspended
In Ice flows a-melting locked shards of my time
Unsure paths for walking my feet slipped the slime
From buildings abandoned and industry lacking
To floating or drowning in pestilence tacking
My comrades seen dangling on twine-twisted debris
Others trapped in blind alleys they could not see
These fears they grip me…at the end of the world.
I awake and in turn I learn the dream is not mine
But belongs to a people lost in their time
What fears that do grip them are not what’s to come
But a psychic depiction of spirit undone
The conscience speaks loudly in symbols dramatic
of inner world chaos and as such climatic
The filth of the waters is conscience polluted
By actions whose consequence truth is refuted
While others are judged for earthly betrayal
I project onto them my own conscience denial
On such jagged edges the world is in deluge
A clime of despair projected no refuge
At times last goodbye the epithets hurled…
The dream is real. I awoke at 4:30 AM. I lay in contemplation. “Is the dream mine? What does this mean? This dream of brackish, polluted, poisoned waters filled with the debris of dilapidated domiciles and mills abandoned?” Prayerfully I reflected.
The dream is not mine. I’ve been given the troubling common dream of a people. I dreamed a world deluged in filth. Of structures dilapidated and broken down. Uninhabitable buildings. Abandoned work places. Stuffed animals hanging in the wind and dangling over the putrid waters, the representatives of a childhood lost. The dream is not mine, but mine to unlock. A dream to interpret and return to Nebuchadnezzar.
Fear can drive dreams and our dreams manifest them. But other powers drive them as well. The climate fears that grip us are not so much grounded reality but in our own subconscious, I’m shown. These fears, this dream, represent an inner world with no moral structure and a prevailing sense of impurity. Do you recognize it? The theme, not the details? Have you dreamed this dream or one like it?
There was a prevailing sense of uncleanness about the waters, as if they had flowed over and through a garbage dump, carrying refuse with it for miles and miles. This sense of uncleanness was not meant to represent a polluted planet, but rather the soul soiled and befouled with impurity. It is not as much a call to clean up the planet as it is a call from the conscience and from God to clean up an impure life. The soul knows itself and the purity it possessed as a child, when it was fresh and clean. No matter the social justification or authoritative pronouncement, the soul knows what defiles it. It speaks to us in the night and pangs us in the chest with feelings of shame and a sense of foreboding. Maybe our apocalypticism is a function of our hidden sense of moral offense and justified judgment. Perhaps the fears we project upon the world are projections of the fears we have over our own soiled nature.
We are adrift in a world with no moral structure now. Dystopian themes are common in our society and this is the unseen topography of the modern soul. There is no up or down. There is no sensible or rational argument that can explain our social insistences. Like a woman adrift on the waterlogged boards of a collapsed industrial wall, looking for footing while water sloshes over the fungal wood, there is no place to stand firm. Find a balancing point, but it is only good for a moment as the debris continues its migration down the flooded river, upset as it makes its way over stone and tree-trunk and tire. Do we know where to stand? Is there a firm foundation left? We have destroyed them all. It is past the floods. The house built upon the sand has already collapsed. Jesus warned. We have blown the dam and now the house floats down the watercourse in pieces, demolished by the floods.
Our post-modern moral reasoning is filled with double-binds and non-sequiturs. We cannot address them honestly, we can only medicate them! Somewhere deep in the soul a voice yells, “what if I am wrong?” But we cannot bear the possibility. Double down and get angrier! Get louder! Denial fuels violence that wells up in the heart and in the street. Rail against the “deniers” all you will, but face your own denial first. What are you running from? Do you realize that you have no moral authority while screaming from atop your own inner cesspool, while in denial of the same?
A moral structure is synonymous with a moral ecosystem. There is a hierarchy and interplay of positive forces meant to establish a habitable inner world - and outer world. Our moral ecosystem is made of loving parents cohering in mutual self-giving. It is informed by the virtues that come to us by religious instruction. Virtues. A Forgotten word. A word intrinsic to western civilization. Part of the moral structure that has been undermined.
What have we been given in place of this ecosystem? Sexual virtues? The paucity! Our past has been deconstructed and rests on the debris of an unraveling civilization. Had that been so bad we might now be better people. WE might be better. Not necessarily the systems — they depend on us. On OUR being better. But we are NOT better. We are more anxious. More depressed. More afraid. More angry. More traumatized. More brutal. Less forgiving. Less merciful. Less charitable. Charity, remember, is not measured in what you get your government to do for you, but by what you actually do for others. There is no virtue — no personal character formation towards the truly GOOD — if you try to make others agree with your perceived good, a good that you are actually unable to carry out yourself because of deficits in your own character. There is no virtue in that.
We stand — we topple! —in a brave new world where there is no sure foothold. We fall and brace ourselves with our hands. We rise again to yell and fall again. We are disoriented. We celebrate the demise of institutions while we are carried down-river with the wreckage. Some call for new edifices to be built upon the heaps of trash gathered around the rubbish collected where the old structure’s beams and Marx’s exhumed coffin come together, stuck amidst the boulders and stones.
I dreamed a dream of an unraveling civilization adrift on the wrecks of time.