It is quite normal to fear the future. Ironically, one of the things necessary to having a good future is to foresee the worst things that could happen, especially the bad things that are likely to happen, and prepare to do whatever is necessary to survive them. Science fiction that pictures a dark and dystopian future have been popular in recent years. And we are wise to believe they are popular for very good reasons. People with guns in Texas fantasize about a coming Civil War in which they can purge the places they call home of the people they believe they hate because all of their troubles are repeatedly blamed upon those people by propaganda engines like FOX News. Of course, those people being blamed are people of color, immigrants like my wife, and intellectuals like… well, me. So, if our current society were to collapse suddenly, I would be obliged to apply those preparations I have made to try to save my own life. Of course, I am not a prepper, so those preparations don’t actually exist at this time. My plan for that sort of apocalypse is to be one of the first to die.
Among the Native American Dakota and Lakota peoples the magic-men, the Shamans, were self-identified by their dreams. If they dreamed of lightning, they were the ones tasked with ceremonial magic, the maintenance of the village’s spirituality. If they dreamed of the white bison, they were to be a great hunter/warrior, bringing home much venison, hides, and buffalo meat. But if they were a Stone Dreamer, that made them the prophet, the diviner of the possible and probable futures.
So, that’s what I think this essay is for. Stone Dreaming about the blackest of obsidian days to come.
Of course, the first thing to think about with black obsidian thoughts is the Covid pandemic. We already know that it has now evolved into an endemic viral problem. We may be obliged to get vaccinated once or twice or three times a year for the rest of our lives.
And the virus has mutated several times already. Thanks mostly to the fact that it is a world-wide epidemic that has visited high-population countries like China and India and Brazil where not nearly enough vaccinations are administered, especially to poor people. And in this country, there is a strong anti-vax sentiment that makes people express their patriotism and sense of freedom by refusing to get vaccinated and catching a lethal dose of Covid as a consequence of their chosen political values. The consequence could very well be that the human population of Earth is decimated by at least 80% when a Covid variant becomes both more deadly and more vaccine-defeating than it is now. That is a rough stone dream to swallow.
Another potential black obsidian stone dream is the looming threat of climate change and global warming. It is man-made despite what corporations choose to believe. And defeating it depends on those same corporations to stop adding more greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, and then invent a time machine to take that resolve back in time fifty years. The Western United States is on fire now every Summer. And the oceans have begun to rise. Miami and Houston have already had over-large flooding problems from salt water. Coastal cities throughout the world will be completely underwater soon. Underwater domed cities, fish and seaweed farming, and travel by submersible need to already become reality rather than science fiction. This is the thing that we have to fear the most.
And how do we deal with these dreams of stone-cold reality? There are limits to what the ordinary citizen can do. We can try to live more simply. We can work to recycle more and reduce the amount of trash we generate. Picking up plastics, especially plastic bags to keep the oceans freer of micro-plastic shards will help. Wasting less clean fresh water will help. But unless we are directly related to Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, we can’t do anything major individually. We must band together and care for the environment as stewards of the land more like the Native Americans once were.
We have to stop being corporate slaves, shopping to buy more stuff like we see on TV, and working harder and harder just to earn money to shop with.
And if we decide not to pay attention to these alarming stone dreams, we must be prepared like the Dakota warriors once were, ready to stake ourselves out on the plain and declare with no weapons in our hands, “Today is a good day to die!”
I am not personally ready for that. Are you?