Requiem for Our Species

Chris Hedges:

What do you tell a terminal patient seeking relief? Yes, this period of distress may pass, but it’s not over. It will get worse. There will be more highs and lows and then mostly lows, and then death. But no one wants to look that far ahead. We live moment to moment, illusion to illusion. And when the skies clear we pretend that normality will return. Except it won’t.


The worse it gets the more we retreat into fantasy. The law will solve it. The market will solve it. Technology will solve it. We will adapt.


Those who warn of the looming mass extinction are dismissed as hysterics, Cassandras, pessimists. It can’t be that catastrophic.

At the inception of every war I covered, most people were unable to cope with the nightmare that was about to engulf them. Signs of disintegration surrounded them. Shootings. Kidnappings. The bifurcation of polarized extremes into antagonistic armed groups or militias. Hate speech. Political paralysis. Apocalyptic rhetoric. The breakdown of social services. Food shortages. Circumscribed daily existence. But the fragility of society is too emotionally fraught for most of us to accept. We endow the institutions and structures around us with an eternal permanence.

“Things whose existence is not morally comprehensible cannot exist,” Primo Levi, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, observed.

Bookmark the permalink.