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irony, whereby the actions of our ancestors, meant to liberate us, have
without their intention also cursed us.
It is no wonder, then, that we find it so difficult to face the current
crisis. Inheritors of a vast abundance, and in our vast numbers an instance
of that abundance, we cannot easily undo the legacy of generations. In
the previous chapter I listed a series of reasons why the ecological revolu-
tion of our time has gone missing. Here I can add a further reason to that
list: in the end, that revolution asks us to undo certain consequences of
a demographic explosion that has lasted for several centuries. It demands
that we catch up with an event that should have happened long ago—and
that, thanks to our ignorance, could not happen at its proper time. We
were born too late and are emerging from our stupidity later yet. We are
only beginning to grasp our situation now, at this far edge of time, awak-
ening as it were after our own end.
Where are we, then, in this strange moment on this planet, which is
not quite, or not yet, our real home? As I argued in the previous chapter,
this hour cries out for a revolution—but one that promises us no famil-
iar liberation, no release. We must act, yet we will not; we must reply to
something greater than we are, yet we can barely hear its voice. Now,
when we work within our political traditions, they thwart our actions,
rather than enabling them. In doing what we must, we discover that we
are also asked to give what we do not have. The measures we could take
to forestall the coming horror are relatively simple, their purpose clear,
yet enacting them seems impossibly difficult.
Yet as I have been suggesting in this chapter, if we did so, we would
discover that despite our best efforts, we would still be using the planet
for our own purposes. Even as we atempt to forestall the coming crisis,
we must recognize that we ourselves, in our great numbers and exces-
sive demands, are already a crisis too great for the planet to bear. We are
lost where we are found, ignorant in our knowledge, poor in our wealth,
inheriting a blessing that curses us. Here at the crossroads, we are already
beyond them, already inhabiting a future we did not choose. Stealing the
future from our descendants, we also discover that in some degree ours is
missing as well. In retrospect, we might conclude that the whole history
of the modern world is shadowed by another future that is not to be—
one promised by an ecological revolution that, whenever it takes place,
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