519 - Galinsky - Herbert

Handy Tips On How To Behave At The Death Of The World

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Correspondence

Anne Herbert’s “Handy Tips on How to Behave at the Death of the World” [Dog-Eared Page, March 2019] was deeply depressing. The problem is not with her tips but rather her fatalistic certainty that the death of the world looms unavoidably in our near future.

I’m not in denial. The plight of the world is terrifying, and things look more hopeless today than when Herbert wrote this almost twenty-five years ago. I agree it is imperative to face the truth of our situation as the first step in making the necessary changes. But I disliked the essay because I also believe that, in the absence of at least a spark of hope, motivation is hard to find.

Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone address this point in their 2012 book, Active Hope: “The greatest danger of our times is the deadening of our response.” Our dire circumstances make it more important than ever to remember that the future is neither fixed nor predictable. Our actions, and even our thoughts, are right now creating the future.

Lee Pope Grass Valley, California
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March 2019