Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.
Dr Martin Luther King
It can’t have gone unnoticed as the shops and every possible show have adopted oranges, and blacks, webs and witch’s hats, zombies and ghouls to celebrate.
Traditionally it is the eve of All Saints Day, when the veil to the other side is at its thinnest and the evils that lurk there come out to play before the day that ‘good’ prevails.
So I thought I would tell a story of horror, inspired by the fiction genre…
It’s set in a world on the verge of dystopia, in which the fight against bad things is at its peak and it is debatable as to which will win – good or evil, you know the sort of thing I mean.
It’s a world in which fertility is in decline and children disappear never to be seen again. Where people are enslaved and ignored and forced to give up their lands and their lives for barely a crust and have nothing but the clothes on their back and a handful of precious belongings, treasured for the connection to the life they once knew.
It’s a world in which the soil itself is whisked away by the harsh winds. Can you hear them, whistling in your ears? The goodness that once enriched that soil has gradually faded bit by bit as poisons became preferable to nurturing and were an easy answer to bugs and beasts. But there was no trail of villagers coming for them with pitchforks and torches. They quietly disappeared along with thousands of other creatures of the land, fading silently, one by one until suddenly they are only noticed by their absence.
In the seas vast stretches of water lay barren, replaced by a population of detritus and debris. The very body of water itself gathers its anger, building up heat, stirring up its rage and changing the air above it, forcing its anger across the miles to wipe out whatever happens to be in its path. Again, and again, and again, it swirls with ever increasing might. Meanwhile the creatures within join the land animals in another place, gone from this terrible place.
And the air weeps, taking its tears from the hot seas, casting them down in fits of prolonged despair, washing away whatever they touch. It cries because it cannot breathe, choking on gases that weren’t there before, not for thousands of years. A re-emergence, like the dragons of old whose fiery breath would have choked the skies. And all the air can do is seek to cleanse itself no matter who else may suffer while it does so.
Meanwhile, the parties go on, blocking out the images of the forests burning for the palm oil in the candy we are handing out.
Because yes, this isn’t a fiction at all. It’s the world we live in right now.
All through the year I write with positive messages but while we celebrate with images of horror, on a festival which was rooted in nature, it is impossible for me to ignore the Global Horror Story in which we live.
We are in the midst of the sixth great extinction. Our own fertility rates are in decline. Our air is poisoned with more carbon than in 800,000 years. Our forests are no longer able to clean the air as we have removed so many trees that the balance has changed. Our oceans are changing through heat, reducing salinity through the addition of fresh water from melted ice, losing populations through bleaching of coral reefs and suffocating with the ubiquitous presence of plastics. We humans are experiencing more cancers, a decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics and in some countries we grow fatter while others are starving. Thousands are losing homes and lives to extreme weather and increasing wild fires.
We should be terrified, on this day of all days.
But there is hope. Just as Hallowe’en is a dark day before light, we are the change. All of us.
We can all look to our lives and our businesses and do things differently. The time is now, today. Make this the day that you commit to finding out what you can change because whilst these are truths, the future remains unwritten and the outcome of whether good things happen to counteract as much of the bad as we possibly can is entirely up to us.
After all, with every horror story, even a global one, the last thing to die is hope.
Sandra Norval is Managing Director of Catalicity. For 364 days of the year we focus on the positive actions that your organisation can take to make the changes needed to tackle these huge issues. Using our Sustainability Strategy Canvas, or our Four Elements Coaching Model we can help you to identify the good things you already have in place and design your strategy to do even better. And we promise a shift away from any doom and gloom that could haunt your business!