By Max Wilbert

We are living in an ecological catastrophe. Our world is being killed before our eyes. This hurts. And so for many people, their response is either apathy, complete emotional shutdown, or a nihilistic embrace of powerlessness.

There is another option. While our power to change the course of ecological collapse is indeed limited, limited is different from non-existent. The truth is, we do have power. And we can change the world. No, our power is not limitless. No, the world will not change easily. And no, we cannot fix everything. Some things are broken beyond fixing. But these difficulties do not absolve us of responsibility.

There is an old warrior’s saying that “duty is heavier than a mountain, and death is lighter than a feather.” The duty of humans with moral conscience in this era is heavy indeed. And yet, what would we be if we abandoned this world to its fate? If we abandoned our forests, our oceans, our mountains? If we abandoned our non-human relatives? If we abandoned our communities and future generations of children? What would we be, then?

Some people argue that humanity is simply a cancer. That we will destroy ourselves. That our nature is fundamentally destructive. That our actions have proven us unfit to survive in the long-term, unfit to participate in the community of life, which we are destroying.

But if human destructiveness is one part of our potential, then humans defending the land is another. Those who defend the land are part of the immune system of the world. We are defenders of wholeness. We bring balance. We are the consciousness of the Earth, our bones like mountains, our blood like rivers. We are an evolutionary force, an outgrowth of the planet itself, taking action to defend our community.

And we will not give up, because ultimately, to abandon responsibility is to abandon our own souls. There is only one way we can guarantee the worst possible outcome for the future: if we take no action at all.

And so today, I wish to thank the activists and land defenders of the world. Your hearts are the conscience of our society. Your tears are our prayers. Your dedication is the salvation of life. Your effort is not in vain. You are valuable.

Thank you.