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Dealing with my Eco-Anxiety

Story by Ayen dela Torre 

Art by Rachel Halili

I care about the planet we live in. But I go through periods of denial that show up in two forms: “The world is going to be okay; we’ll get through this.” and “The world is ending. I should live my life while I can.” And even during times when I feel strong and empowered, I’m confronted by this knot in my stomach telling me that I’m part of the problem.

I don’t own a car but I travel regularly for work and leisure. I try to eat locally grown produce but I still consume meat. I’m scared to speak out about our climate crisis for fear of being called a hypocrite. But I know I need to be comfortable with this internal conflict, so I can shift my focus towards action. 

We exist within a system that is broken, a system that enabled a few people to gain wealth and power at the expense of the vulnerable – our earth, our wildlife, and people who have done the least but are suffering the most. 

We can do better in our everyday lives. We can live more in alignment with our values, but we have to go beyond individual responsibility and self-flagellation. We need to demand for systemic change. 

There are movements that are challenging the status quo. There are proposed bills that can give citizens more agency. Decades worth of science telling us that our house is on fire, but there is a way out. For it to work, we’re going to need a lot of people to be on board. We need to arm ourselves with hope and rally our communities.

In her book Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit emphasized that “Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”

I’d rather be a hopeful hypocrite and join the fight rather than feel paralyzed and look away.

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