Part of our ecological destruction has to do with misunderstanding the temporal unity of our "self." As media and politics and capitalism pressure us to reduce our awareness to the split-second desires and drives elicited through advertising and propagandas of all sorts, we lose perspective. They say that a society is great when old men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit. The west has been mortgaging their future selves and the lineage of life to maximize short-term comfort at the cost of long-term comfort and sustainability, equity, and resilience. Gilbert beautifully portrays the self-hate at the core of all unconscious habits that harm our future selves. This unconscious self-hate is a large part of the mechanisms driving our maladaptive habits and separation. Being nice to our future self permits freedom--freedom from the boundness of seeking shortcuts, of lying to ourselves about the consequences of our actions. As Hanna Arendt wrote, I would never want to kill someone because I wouldn't want to live with a murderer. As we are complicit for climate change, the wars abroad, we will be forced to live with their consequences. Taking responsibility for each trace of our actions, and how they ramify politically, socially, and personally, is today an arduous process. The cards are stacked against us. And yet, reclaiming our sovereignty means working with others in solidarity to make their futures brighter as well. Gilbert’s mother didn’t just make a nice bed for her future self, but for her husband’s future self too. She made a happier family, with less grumpiness. How are you sowing the seeds of community and ecology for your future self?
Sometimes we need to take decisive defensive, or even offensive, action in order to reduce collective suffering. Such action may even result in killing. How to do what is necessary without anger? This is the koan.