So, when the time comes, I want to be prepared. I hope you are too.
When the time comes, it will come rolling in like a dark wave over these green hills. The bird calls will be replaced by the roar of engines, the wail of sirens, and the blat-blat of gunfire. Helicopters will hover above the valley, like once did the wedge-tailed eagles, except that these noisier birds will flatten the corn, snap pawpaw tree trunks, and freak the wallabies into narrow lantana tunnels and copses of ironbark.
Trucks or Toyota utes or motorbikes will rumble up your driveway like a scene from Mad Max, or from the social media coverage of Aleppo, Mosul, Baghdad, Kabul, Donetsk, Chibok and Sana’a. (We are separated from these awful realities by the pixelated unreality of our screens. This separation protects us – it can’t happen here, we think.)
Soldiers or looters or jihadists or neighbours – you can’t tell who; they all are masked – will jump from their vehicles, armed with legal or illegal firearms, once designated as appropriate for law enforcement, sport or farm management, and will march up to the door of your house in the bush.
Or maybe not.
Maybe, when the time comes, it will be a slower tide, flooding these valleys with season after season of no rain. The lantana leaves will drop, forming a blanket of fire fuel beneath the ironbarks, angophoras and flooded gums. Your tanks will empty, the pawpaws shrivel and the green turn to brown.
Climate change, once a discussion topic around lattes at the local cafe, has come to where we live. Climate change, once a football kicked about to gain advantage in a stupid two-sided game we call politics, is now the kicker and is booting in changes to the great ocean flows. The 11,000 years of predictable seasons (the Holocene) that gave rise to agriculture and civilisation have ended.
You will want to move, but everywhere is the same. Drought and flood, fire and famine. No more latte chats over chocolate frangipane and cherry tart.
Or maybe not.
Maybe, when the time comes, it will be a disease made into a super sickness by a diet of antibiotics, and will travel from person to person, country to country via mosquito or Boeing – or simply waft on the breeze.
Or maybe not.
Maybe everything will be just as lovely as denial can make it: higher profits, smarter phones, better television series, cleaner coal, cheaper frangipane and cherry tarts, and we all come up Trump. (No way. Some scenarios are just too silly…)
I don’t how the time will come, but the time is coming and I want to be prepared. I want you to be prepared.
I realise now that all we have is love. I won’t take my bow and arrows up to the cave behind my shack under the cliffs to set up the last stronghold. I won’t drag cartons of baked beans, jerry cans of water, batteries and a solar panel to the cave, carefully covering my tracks, so as not to be followed by the newly desperate. No. Love is the only preparation.
Humanity is not only the human genus, Homo sapiens; it’s the human ability to love despite (or maybe because of) the chaos of our brief existence. Civilised life has crushed our humanity; has replaced love born from the transient magic of our shared moment in the sun with a mundane bundle of fear tied together with the lie of a religious or financial other life.
So, when the time comes, I want to be with you – to relearn our humanity, to ignite love in the wasteland of civilisation, to cherish the brilliance of our brief existence together.
Maybe the time has already come.