Bleak futures

I’m in Kansas City on the Plaza at Kaldi Coffee, drinking a cup of Ethiopian coffee. In coffee tasting notes, this cup has big berry with a tart lemon acidity. I’m enough of a coffee connoisseur (read: snob) to appreciate differences in tastes, and Ethiopian coffee happens to be one of my favorites.

In some of the futures I write, this coffee would no longer exist in the US. In one of the futures I’ve written, Country Club Plaza itself lies in ruins bombed in street riots, crumbling and teeming with the destitute. It’s weird to sit here with double vision, questioning the peace I sit in, the calming electronic music, the superlative coffee, the pastry counter tempting me with its wares. 

But isn’t this the double-vision we all face when hearing about climate change, poverty, injustice? We know these things are in the world, yet they seem unreal when we’re sitting at leisure in our favorite places. 

I try to extricate myself from the spiderweb of comfort, to do something more concrete than to write, but I don’t know what to do. The president of my country signs executive orders to mine and log the natural wildlife reserves and parks, guts the Environmental Protection Agency, and emasculates the regulations that have brought the US back from the smog-filled days of my childhood. I feel powerless.

Recycling doesn’t seem to be enough. Driving a compact car seems paltry. I need to get out of my comfort zone to do something, because I’m the one who can afford to. What can I do? I can write about the difficult futures and their seeds in the present. I can write about the evils of the present. I can write these deftly enough that they’re readable. 

And I can vote, and encourage others to vote in ways that choose nature over profit. Maybe that would mean fewer coffeehouses like this; I don’t know. But I’d give up some of my comfort for that world. 

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