from One Ocen, by Anne de Carbuccia
People often ask me what the difference is between the presentations of my One Planet One Future art project to a group of adults as opposed to a group of students. I artistically document what we have, what we are about to lose and what we have already lost, and my images poetically recount the great challenges we will need to face as a species. The adults are often surprised, some feel deep sorrow, others disdain, several clap on to denial, very rarely do I get a true sense of acceptance of our current situation. As if the burden was too great to carry. The students, on the other hand, even the youngest, have an innate acceptance of my message. It seems to have grown organically for them - it’s already part of their vision for the future. They know the world they will live in will be very different from that of today. The youth are therefore a lot more curious and engaged in my art and its message. They are already weaving a new narrative for the world of tomorrow. Consciously or unconsciously they are preparing themselves.
We have lost control of climate breakdown. We can see it through the devastating forest fires around the planet, the first hurricanes in high altitude mountains or the deadly landslides and flooding. Our climate is a runaway train and most of our leaders and institutions would rather treat it as the elephant in the room or an impossible black swan. Ours species is concentrating its dwindling resources and assets on growing a plant on the moon whilst simultaneously turning the Amazonian jungle into a tundra. In the name of “spreading humanity into space” we now have a Tesla as an artificial satellite of the sun and yet we still have not yet been able to replace single-use plastic with an eco-material. Regardless of the fact that we are already ingesting this plastic through the fish we eat. We watch from the distance of our computer screens the dying polar bears, feeling so sorry for these magnificent creatures we have cherished as children, and yet in no way do we relate our consumer-driven lifestyles to their doom.
When I started my educational project 4 years ago, I would always try to boost the kids facing me, telling them that thanks to their newly acquired awareness they would be the ones finding the solutions to these challenges. I remained positive, assuring them that everything was possible, that our species had an extraordinary sense of survival and capacity to adaptation and resilience, that they would make it where their parents didn’t. Over the years their questions about responsibility have become more precise, harder to answer; and the age groups arriving at my permanent exhibitions are younger and younger. And then last year, a five-year-old with developed autistic symptoms came over to me and hugged me for several minutes, when she released her embrace she told me she liked my art because it showed things she already knew were going to happen, that it showed the end of a story. She went on to explain that it was important to show the end to start again. That was a big turning point for my educational project and all of One Planet One Future. Until then, I had only been trying to repair the damage, create awareness without ever really admitting to the fact that we had to, in large part, let go of the system we had grown up in. I realized that a form of societal collapse was inevitable, that we needed as a species to rethink everything, that a new paradigm was coming whether we liked it or not, and that anything else was redundant.
I had planned on writing this MANIFESTO for the next generation, to tell them about all the little things they can do in their daily life to be part of what I believe in the most: contributing to the growing chain connecting us to systemic change. There are so many things we can do every day that can make a difference for the planet.* We are defining the future of the polar bear just by what we choose to put on our plates daily.
Instead, I am writing to the adults, especially to the teachers, caretakers and educators. I have watched a growing anger and sometimes rage rising from my student visits. Repeatedly at the end of Q & A they have asked me why they are being asked to fix things that my generation to this day keeps on destroying. The fact is no one really knows what will work in this new impermanent world. The only certainty is that we will need to adapt. As an example, the predicaments of climate impact on rain-fed agriculture just in the northern hemisphere places us at the beginning of a societal collapse if the El Nino phenomenons continue to be so close to each other. We know this fact but we don’t seem to be able to face it. People are blinded by fear instead of embracing acceptance. Very soon we will need to embrace what we want to keep; what we most cherish; and rebuild what would be useful to bring back. As a society we will have to rethink how we value our growth globally.
Taking inspiration from the actions of the righteous in history Gariwo wants to educate the youth to distinguish good from evil and to individual responsibility. In the same manner the righteous for the environment can play a fundamental role to inform and accompany the youth in their search for a sustainable and livable planet. The next generation are very aware of the situation. Their increasing acts of civil disobedience, their marches against the globalization of indifference, their angry declaration against a system disguising loss into plenty are rising. In Europe, tens of thousands of youth are marching every week for their future. They are declaring their rage publicly, with very simple terms that are often scorned by the older generations for their simplicity. They are skipping school in favor of protests and are frowned upon by their institutions for missing important classroom time. But their response is to ask if it is really worth going to school to learn of things that they consider will be oblivious in the future.
They are the European young leaders of tomorrow and even more so than in my generation, they have never been exposed to totalitarian societies and extreme political movements and leadership. They risk to want to experience something different from democracy and its failures. Just as there is a climate crisis there is a social crisis. Today, adults and especially teachers and educators can play a key role as stewards and storytellers to their students. By acknowledging the importance of the situation, embracing the debate, supporting them and showing them examples of great righteous women and men who came before them; they can help steer these young born leaders towards a new path in democracy and prevent their search to generate only rage.
Rage is important and should be honored. If it burns strong enough it can ignite a bonfire that can illuminate the planet. Let’s help them not burn the planet but make it shine bright.
Anne de Carbuccia, environmental artist