Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Recession and the pain of change


autistic author, artist, Donna Williams sifting sand  In my 30s a good friend gave me a precious piece of paper with a sentence on it.  It was about the opportunity of change and that when we fight change the most likely gift is pain.  She died shortly after that and I remembered that sentence as I mourned that loss and celebrated her spiritual presence in the beliefs, philosophies and sisterhood she had shared with me.

Today much of the world is either in dire poverty and those shielded from it by their comparatively secure, comfortable, sometimes luxurious or even pathologically excessive lifestyles are watching a now flawed economic model crumble all around them.  And most of the humans scoffed at the warnings, fought the impending change on some level.  Humans continued to buy, buy, buy.  Humans continued to waste, waste, waste.  Humans continued to ignore what would take even mere pennies from our wealth.  Humans continued to want buy one get two free and demand what we saw as our rights to have something, anything, sometimes even everything for nothing and even pirated, stole or exploited that which was not our own just because ‘well everyone’s doing it these days’.

Then came Al Gore and many of us ignored An Inconvenient Truth because it was exactly that.  Our leaders ignored it, our companies ignored it, and we ignored it.  Then humans learned the nutrients in our soil were so severely depleted many people were both obese yet brain starved and allergies and immunological chaos spread like a wildfire through affluent societies just as labels were sought to co-opt whatever resources we could squeeze, yet we still didn’t want to question our own imbalances, pathologies, insanities.  Humans learned that those sprays we used on crops and flame retardants on our furnishings, the chemicals in our plastics and our washed away carcinogenic cigarette butts were killing animals which were the foundation of the food chain, and the shells of birds and would soon alter the food chain of which we were part.  Animals living off nutrient depleted soils were developing viruses that could kill us or so full of antibiotics we ate them and progressively lost our own gut immunity in an epidemic of gut disorders.  Humans learned our officials were bribed by companies to take their waste fluoride even though it hardens our teeth whilst stripping our gut lining and we gave it to our children in all manner of flavors because an advertisement told us to and forgot to read the warnings against swallowing it…yet we washed it and a million costly smelly toxic envirotoxins down our toilets, sinks, showers.

Humans learned that our oceans were turning acidic, that our fish and sea mammals may be dying out by 2030, that our water levels would rise by 2020, that our replanting of fields with biofuels to feed our greed for petrol would starve millions and further deplete our own soil.  Humans learned that droughts and floods would trigger mass migrations, that salinity would make many lands unable to feed their populations, that our biodiversity had been half destroyed through greedy fixation on limited popular crops which we now learned wouldn’t survive the soaring temperatures and droughts, floods and salinity of global warming.  And still humans voted for self interested, fixated sociopaths to spend our energy and taxes on killing machinery and soldiers who’d come back with half their limbs killing half a million people and pushing THEIR unemployment rate to over 80%, because THEY are all the bad guy OVER THERE.  Our ignorant, arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic age.

Now industries close because humans can’t eat SUVs or Hummers, because the garage space is for another family to help subsidise house repayments or because all the money humans spend on gyms and medication as humans sit on their butts could be saved doing something as archaic as walking in cities who behaved as if public transport infrastructure was a trivial side issue for the irrelevant poor.

Now humans pick up those packets of ready made and wonder is artificial coloring really coal tar?  And what are humans doing eating carcinogens?  Humans wonder if we could actually make and not buy a sauce, a topping, a cake mix, a loaf of bread, yet it’s been generations since we ever saw anyone do so.  Humans wonder as their children sit addicted before computer games they bought BECAUSE they gloated in the advertising these were HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.  Humans bought pets as handbag accessories and found them designer beds, designer food, diamante collars and jackets and channel hopped when we saw starving orphans or babies with AIDS.  Humans glorified then devoured hate magazines which defiled those who paid thousands daily on frivolities and let their dog piss on a shops designer wedding dress, yet humans paid more money for those same hateful magazines per week than they ever gave to alleviate global poverty.

Humans praised their child’s every mouthful and every poop, sent them to schools which would teach them narcissists win, hazing is sane, humiliation is the ‘natural order’, bought them sportscars for graduating and boasted their corporate successes built on the labour of humans they had never met, whose shoes they’d never walk in.

Humans believed God gave them this world to exploit and shot polar bears from helicopters and used gorilla hands for ashtrays.

The pain I feel from the change associated with recession is tempered by the hope I may slowly have less of a different more gnawing kind of pain which haunts me like a spectre… that of existential angst.  I find it hard to be a hypocrite and yet it’s so hard not to be in a world which promotes hypocracy.  I have no God to absolve me of the guilt.  Nor would it help me to seek the insanity of whitewashing myself of it whilst taking Prozac.  As a spiritual atheist (a humanist, a Taoist) I simply feel the madness, watch it unravel, try to minimise my harm and take solace in the fact I have no children who will have to directly reap the costs of a derangement my own affluent culture contributed to.

I wrote a film script, Mc Reedy’s Christmas, set 100 years from now in a time when we will all be long ago and far away.  There will be a world beyond this one but I won’t see it.

Donna Williams *)


author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.

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