I’m ready. The time has come. My jaw is set. My loins are girt.
The empire is falling before our eyes. Headed by a lunatic (no distinctive moustache but a conceit of fake hair) the cultural driver of our times is simultaneously constipated with inaction and shitting in its own nest. The land of the free became the land of the free lunch, but now the bill is on the table. It’s sad. Sad.
Pretenders to the throne look on in anticipation, licking their chopsticks, preparing their stroganoff, grinning at the tweets from the lunatic emperor. Missiles are tested, lies promulgated, chests beaten, profits enhanced, suits bought.
I can see all this from my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world. I can see climate scientists crying in their scotches, shifting their homes to higher ground, kissing their children goodnight and burning photos of a once great reef.
I see traditional farmers in India hanging themselves from a thirsty tree as their rivers dwindle, their crops wither and their debts rise, thanks to the new prosperity that has guzzled the water and belched wealth for the ruling few.
I see indigenous fishers around the world abandoning their boats and catching only buses to the city to make some money for their family by joining the system that steals their catch, vomits toxins into their seas, causes fish stocks to plummet and makes the ocean rise in anger to swallow the fishers’ huts, leaving their families homeless and hopeless.
From the window of my shack I see this. I also see a kookaburra swoop down to gather an insect which, in an unguarded moment, revealed itself at the base of the macadamia tree.
It’s August, named after Augustus, a real emperor, a man who created a long-lasting peace (Pax Romana) and wrote complete sentences. August is my month of action.
The world we know is changing. The way we are living is a prosperity created from exploiting non-renewable resources, indigneous land and cheap labour. It’s unsustainable. We borrowed against the future, but now it’s pay-up time. The Western capitalist lifestyle is being assaulted from all sides: climate change, overpopulation, dwindling biodiversity, global pollution, degrading soils and diminishing freshwater.
Dark days are coming; the rainbow bubble I live in will burst. I must do something. What am I to do? Plant trees? Buy a container of rice? Get a gun? Go to Canberra with a banner? Click something on Facebook?
I could go into denial, sip tumeric latte, and act like everything will continue as is. I could (many do, and I like tumeric latte), but I can’t. Having looked out my window, there’s no going back.
So, dear reader, I’m ready. I’m prepared for action.
I have chosen my uniform: sarong with elephant motif (hardly loins-girting, I know) and Lismore Herb Festival t-shirt.
I have armed myself: paintbrush, three tins of paint – acorn squash (yellow), petal blush (pink) and violet eclipse (purple) – and four rolls of masking tape.
Yes, folks, in this time of lethal war posturing, global environmental stress, and worldwide social injustice, I’m going to paint my bedroom. It’s die or dye. Sure, this may look like denial, but it isn’t. I will paint in full awareness. My painting is a pigmented prayer, a positive psychological contribution to the planet.
I will be a Taubman’s monk, a monastic meditating in colour, applying a coat of many colours to these dark times. With each stroke of the brush, I will understand that empires, like bedroom paint jobs, don’t last for ever. Nor does winter.
With each layer of acorn squash, I will paint a better future.