Reluctant activism and other endeavors

A lot of people have been asking me what to about the climate crisis

This question always makes me a little uncomfortable.  I mean, I don’t know!  I’m new here too.

What if I suggest something woefully inadequate or misguided?

But time is running out. For example, the Greenland ice sheet is melting much, much faster than expected.  It’s on course to meet the worst-case scenario prediction…for 2070. Fifty years ahead of predicted.

We’re going to hear headlines like this much more frequently in the near future.  Like this afternoon.  Tomorrow.

It’s clear we need to do something.

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My first foray into protest.

So I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And right now, my best thinking suggests that it comes down to three courses of action. I reserve the right to improve my thinking in the future. But here’s to progress and not perfection.

1. Educate yourself and everyone you know

We need to wake up on a planetary scale. We need to connect the dots.

Despite the current U.S. administration’s position, and that of a lot of the mainstream media coverage, this shit is real and it’s happening now. It’s a mortal threat.

The world’s best scientists can tell you a lot about our best- and worst-case scenarios (spoiler alert:  both are really, really, bad news for humanity and most of the other life on earth).

So educate yourself.  Read everything you can.  Chase down sources and fact check.  Yes, it takes time, but then, when you share what you know with your friends and loved ones it won’t be ambiguous fear that you’re sharing, but actual science.

And that sharing part is really important

Our social circles are where to start.  Because we trust each other.  And we don’t have to set out to “educate others” but rather to do our own research, and then share our findings and feelings.  Tell your friends what’s on your mind, and why.

Not everyone will listen.  That’s ok (because it has to be).  So focus your energy on those who respond to your cries.

And keep learning. Since my initiation as a reluctant climate activist, folks (friends and strangers) have reached out to me to share more resources, question my assumptions or sources, and ask me questions.

Take these inquires and apply them: do more research.  Keep sharing. The cycle continues.

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Read to inform yourself.

2. Become an activist

I frequently encounter folks who share my concern but appear to be going about business as usual.  I get the multitude of reasons for that behavior, but we can do better. We have to.

Believe me when I tell you that I have a million other things I’d rather be doing than becoming a climate activist.  

But I feel like I have a moral and ethical (and existential) responsibility to speak up, stand up, and step up.

I need to be able to tell my children that I did everything I could.

And if I’m screaming at the top of my lungs that the sky is falling, that the house is on fire, well then I feel a responsibility to those that hear me to be leading them in the direction of safety.

Not that I think there’s any safety to be found.  But there is action.  There is work to be done.

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A tiny activist.

 

What does ‘being an activist’ even mean?

Heh.  I don’t really know yet. I’m learning.

Right now, for me, it means writing this blog post. 

It means finding others nearby who are concerned and also want to act and banding together to do this work. It means going to meetings and signing up to do things after and between meetings. 

(Check out the Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, 350.org, Mothers Out Front, and the People’s Climate Movement to name a few.)

It means raising awareness.  It means staying informed so you can share what you know. 

It means learning about resistance and organizing movements and theory. It means learning about how systems change, and what levers are best to push to affect change.

It means reflecting on what skills and abilities you have to offer and finding a place where they can be put to use in service of action.

It means engaging in nonviolent direct action

That last one scares me a little.  I’m a rules girl: if the sign says ‘Keep Off the Grass,’ I do.  So this is going to push me way out of my comfort zone.

But the alternative- climate catastrophe – it’s going to be a lot more unbearable. 

Finally, I offer you my last suggestion.

3. Make consumer-lifestyle choices that get you as close to net-zero as possible

I rank this last on purpose.  I think education and activism are way more important.  It’s been suggested that we have only 18 months left to act if we want to get policies in place in time to make a difference.

But we have the most control on the way we live. And acting through the consumer-lifestyle choices we make can feel like we’re doing something. And if we all made choices like this it would make a difference.

So we should.

I’ve already written about some of the ways we can do this, and I plan to keep blogging about the ways my family is changing our status quo.

But the point is: do something. Then do something else.  Keep acting.

It’s our only hope.

We’re our only hope.

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Trying to save the world is exhausting, depressing, stressful, awkward, uncomfortable, inconvenient, scary.  It’s also connecting and restorative somehow. 

It’s the fight of our, for our lives. And it’s all-consuming.

Yet each one of us has finite time on this earth.  As we have always known, even before climate reckoning.

So we should make the best of it.

Take some advice from Edward Abbey:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here…”

― Edward Abbey

How are you taking action?

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