If you lock all your people into cars, roads, schools, restaurants, stores and jobs, you can get away with murder. What I mean is, you can have all your people working together towards a solid set of community, regional, provincial, national and international goals, and at the same time look around and say you live in a beautiful and favoured place. Well, maybe so and maybe not, but this is not a beautiful dawn over Vernon, where the Okanagan, the Monashees and the Shuswap meet.
Here, have a closer look. What you’re looking at is not the “red sky of dawn” or Shakespeare’s “Dawn in russet mantle clad” but a combination of particulates from the pellet plant in Coldstream, wood stoves in Lumby, cars in Vernon and Kelowna, and more than anything, slash fires set in the forests above Kelowna, to prevent a repeat of the 2003 fire from burning down the houses of the wealthy, who live in the fire zone for the view. In other words, what you see below is not the beauty of nature but a disregard caused by human social relationships focused on humans alone.
We’ve been breathing that smoke for a couple weeks now. We don’t have to invent words for this problem. They already exist. What it would be best to remember is that before this land got screwed up like this, it was native land, approached with a set of values that would never have allowed this kind of double-think; the land’s peoples held the Earth and her creatures as persons, just as they were. With colonization, they were shoved aside on racial grounds. This depersonalization of the Earth continues.
Might we say, this racialization of the Earth. This reserving of consciousness and agency for humans only, while denying it to the Earth. This reserving of consciousness to one genetic line (of the Earth) while denying it both to others (skinks, deer, salamanders, bull thistle and so on) and the originating Earth herself. Even to the point of throwing her water, her lifeblood, away, because it is “only” a common molecular substance .
There is an old saying in spiritual circles: “Be careful what you wish for; it may come true.” The Earth is changing. She is shaking us off. Call it “climate change,” if you like. It’s not “climate change.” It’s terracide.