Lauren R. Stevens: Spare the cobwebs, and allow spider to inspire us

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Williamstown — "The climate battle is lost." "Trump is president and the world will fry." "No point in fighting any more; we might just as well relax and enjoy what's left for our generation at least."

It has been unnerving to watch the administration undo so much of the climate progress of the previous president—not to mention all the progress in other areas that's being whited out. We have a wry remembrance of feeling the Paris Accords were good but not really good enough. We would give a mass and a lot more for Paris now.

A despairing Robert the Bruce — having six times been defeated in his quest to regain the crown of Scotland from the English king, Edward 1 — in the miserable cave in which he was hiding noticed a spider trying to swing from one beam to another. Six times the spider failed to swing far enough. But on the seventh try, the spider seemed to call upon extraordinary if minuscule strength and was able to attach its thread to the far beam, the start of a web.

Bruce took heart from the spider and returned to battle, eventually driving the English out of Scotland. So the 700-year-old story goes.

I'm not particularly enamored by Scottish legends, but I have seen a spider perform on the flying trapeze. So I'm not good at cleaning out the spider webs, some would say from inside my head but certainly from inside my house. Sometimes they even set off my smoke alarms, usually around 2:30 a.m.

I can easily imagine that strength, courage and persistence reside in the smallest creatures of this earth. How then can we, so much bigger, brainier, more manipulative, with so many tools at our disposal — and so responsible for the climate weirding that swirls around us—how can we then fail to see the battle through?

We already feel the effects of global climate change and we realize that many of the processes already set in motion cannot be stopped. We who live in Berkshire County also realize that the effects are already far worse elsewhere, such as nearer the oceans, on islands and in the polar regions.

Nevertheless, human beings can still moderate climate change and should do their best to do so. Citizens of the United States have a special obligation, in the absence of government support — in fact, in the face of a federal government that is actively working against progress.

While we should continue to try to influence national policy, we can focus our work on the state, regional, town and individual levels. We are fortunate to live in a state that is trying to respond. We are fortunate to live in western Massachusetts towns that honor their environment and are committed. We are blessed to live among people who have the imagination and empathy to look both forward in time and outward to the plight of people elsewhere.

Put away the broom, leave a few cobwebs, so that a spider can inspire us. We understand that what we do in our own lives and our families remains the basis for any efforts to combat the climate crisis.

At least that's how it looks from the White Oaks.

A writer and environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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