Sep 21, 2019

Climate Change in the Age of the Resistance

By Tai Amri Spann-Ryan /
Climate Change in the Age of the Resistance

It should be no secret that I love The Dark Crystal, and have since I was a small child in the '80's. I've always found the journey to discover a path to heal what is broken, without destroying "evil," but by unifying the dark and the light within us. It's just art though, right? That's not real life.

Today, I spoke at a Climate Strike Rally in the place where I dwell, Lawrence, Kansas. My favorite speech came from an elder, who reminded us to center the voices of the marginalized, and to be wary of any movement that doesn't. (I'm trying to convince them to publish the speech so everyone can hear it.) I spoke after and kind of had that feeling like, "What else is there to say?" Luckily the organizers needed me to keep it short, so I did, I reminded people to move not just out of frustration, not just out of fear, not just out of hatred for the current administration, but for the love of trees, for love of Black and Brown and poor bodies who will bear the brunt of this world that is hurting. I told them to remember, like my 3 year old daughter does, that the Earth is alive, who sees Gaia/Life in EVERYTHING.

Afterwards, I came home, and finished the last episode of the prequel to what I still believe to be the greatest movie ever written, The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. Without giving away too much, I at some point in that last episode, began to weep, hard. There was a darkening in their world, caused by the extraction of soul essence for the purpose of granting immortality to mortal beings. This darkening was coming up from polluted ground, threatening to destroy all beings of good will, until one of them, given a gift by a sacred tree, absorbed the darkening into her body. And I realized, oh my Gaia, I know who it is that is absorbing the darkening.

You see, while I always want to move out of love, for my family, both blood and chosen, and for this planet, that I recognize to be a living, feeling being, I also see the darkening. While the Rainforests burn, there are Indigenous people in Brazil, dying while protecting them. While we drill in tar sands, there are Indigenous people in the US and Canada, dying trying to protect them. In THIS world, there is a Light Crystal, and a Dark Crystal. The Light Crystal is the one that reminds us to love and that when we love fiercely, radically, unconditionally, and revolutionarily, we can change any system or situation. The Dark Crystal is the one that reminds us that in the battle of good and evil, most, if not all of us, has some aspect of Evil within us.

As we watch the epic battles of good vs. evil: The Dark Crystal, Comic Book Movies, Lord of the Rings, The Bible, we like to root for the good guys to win (while holding appreciation for the bad guys' sense of style), but the reality is, in most cases, we are the bad guys. This is especially true when it comes to climate change. It's one thing to say you live in the belly of the beast, it's another when you realize that not only does the Empire in Star Wars have a really good fashion designer, you actually benefit from the facism. OUR coffee, OUR cell phone, OUR paper, OUR aluminum, are all the reasons that right now, Indigenous people are being murdered by governments, Black people are drowning in the Bahamas, Indonesians are being washed away, and Honduran Climate Refugees are being detained indefinitely.

So to my elder, I agree that Lawrence was founded by anti-slavery activists. My father, the history teacher, also taught me another side, the Dark Crystal, to that story. Many of those abolitionists were against slavery while still not seeing Black people as fully human, and certainly without wanting to live in community with them. The record bears this truth that needs to be heard. Some wanted our freedom, but they didn't want to have to love us too. Is that what we want for our planet, the regulations of a freemaket place, to wait for some "powerful" people to agree with us, or a place to love? And is it that we want these things because it hurts and degrades us as people, or do we want these things because we want poor people, and disproportionally Black and Brown poor people, to stop dying? If your fight is not for them, then I must say, you can stop fighting. Climate Change won't really have to affect us very much, we are very safe in our bubble of a belly. Sure we get hit by the occasional tornado or hurricane, but we have the money to stem those few losses. Money, and, oh yes, all those poor Black and Brown Bodies who have the good fortune of absorbing all the darkening, all the bullets, all the burnings, on the disappeared peoples, all the detainees, and all the soul essence needed, to ensure we live good and long lives. From the Dark Crystal.

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