whole economy, an economy that is systematically exploitative and destructive, an
economy that is killing the planet.
It is insane to favor textile mills, brick
kilns, blast furnaces, electric railways,
and advanced industrial processes over a
living planet. Our ability to imagine is so
impoverished that we cannot even imagine
what is happening right
in front of our faces.
Why is it unimaginable, unthinkable, or
absurd to talk about getting rid of electricity, but
it is not unimaginable,
unthinkable, and absurd
to think about extirpating great apes, great cats,
salmon, passenger pigeons, Eskimo curlews,
short-nosed sea snakes,
coral reef communities?
And why is it just as accepted to allow the extinction of indigenous
humans who are also inevitable victims of this way of life (many of
whom live with little or no electricity)?
This failure of imagination is not only insane, it is profoundly immoral.
Imagine for a moment that we weren’t
su=ering from this lack of imagination.
Imagine a public o;cial saying not that
he cannot imagine living without electricity, but that he cannot imagine living with
it, that what he can’t imagine living without are polar bears, the mother swimming
hundreds of miles next to her child, and,
when the child tires, hundreds of miles
more with the cub on her back. Imagine
if this public o;cial, or rather, imagine if
we all were to say that we cannot imagine
living without rockhopper penguins (as I
write this, the largest nesting grounds of
endangered rockhoppers is threatened by
an oil spill). Imagine if we were to say we
cannot imagine living without the heart-stopping flutters and swoops and dives of
bats, and we cannot imagine living without hearing frog song in spring. Imagine
if we were to say that we cannot live without the solemn grace of newts, and the
cheerful flight of bumblebees (some areas
of China are so polluted that all pollinators are dead, which means all flowering
plants are e=ectively dead, which means
hundreds of millions of years of evolution have been destroyed). Imagine if it
were not this destructive culture — and its
textile mills, brick kilns, electric railways,
and advanced industrial processes—that
we could not imagine living without, but
rather the real, physical world.
Derrick Jensen’s most recent books are
Dreams and, with Aric McBay and Lierre
Keith, Deep Green Resistance.