I sure have been asking a lot of my anti-depressants lately.
In my part of the world last month, people desperately sand-bagged their home against floods, doomed to the forces of climate change. Like those sand bags, this tiny pill has had a big job to do lately to hold back the despair that keeps pouring in.
A terrible suicide bomb in Kabul got very little attention in the news. Ninety people, who had been shopping, talking and laughing, coming home from school, thinking about work or wondering what was for dinner, were killed. Where’s the outrage? The Facebook memes? How terrible would it be to lose someone in that blast and realize that it barely registered in the west? Maybe the first step in combating extremism is to treat our Muslim allies like we treat our western allies when there’s a crisis.
Before I had a chance to publish this post, there were two more terrorist attacks, one in London, and one in Iran. I’m sure you heard much more about one than you did the other.
The Paris accord was ONE WEEK AGO and we’ve already moved onto other topics.
It’s troubling, but not surprising, that the US pulled out of the Paris accord. Anything that sticks it to the straw-man, liberal “other” that Trump et al have so effectively set up, is tossed to his supporters like chunks of raw meat to the baying masses. More than half of Americans, including some prominent business and political leaders, and the rest of the world just shake their heads, regroup, make a plan b.
The news cycle is constantly dominated by every new thing Donald Trump says or does, and he’s always got fresh material. I’ve got news for you; the man loves to be shocking. He likes to disrupt. What do you do with the disruptive student in your class? A disruptive child inappropriately seeking attention? Hint: you don’t reward the behaviour by giving it lots of attention. Granted, the hearings that are going on right now are definitely news-worthy, but we need to focus on the bigger picture and not get sucked into the drama.
Let’s just all stop being held hostage by a toddler’s giant id, shall we? While it’s hard to accept that the US isn’t going to be everyone’s cool big brother anymore, we need to suck it up and move on. They’ve got their own shit going on, and a lot of smart people who are dealing with it. It’s time to tear our eyes from the wreckage and focus on what’s ahead.
The world has some very big problems. We are an evolved, intelligent species capable of great innovation, and we are capable of solutions. I’ve often said that the real leaders don’t go into politics because they’re too busy leading. We have people who understand that humans can’t thrive without taking care of the entire ecosystem. I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Dr. Jane Goodall in person this spring at a private event in Toronto. She is a remarkable human being, environmentalist, feminist, and humanitarian. If you’re curious, you can read the birthday blog I wrote about her here:
I was a little awe-struck and had absolutely nothing intelligent to say to her. I hope she didn’t mind.
Dr. Goodall’s work is based on evidence and a lifetime of research. Her institute invests time, labour, and money into helping communities near chimp habitats so that both species can thrive. She opened her talk that night by saying “If there are any climate change deniers in the room, I suggest you leave immediately.” She’s also 83 years old, and like my little pill, we’re asking an awful lot of her these days.
The Paris Accord has her feeling pretty down:
Just for fun, and because JG is so awesome, here’s an article about how Trump reminds her of a dominant chimp:
We have an incredible resource and wealth of research in Jane Goodall, and the work of climate scientists advising us that we need to change, immediately. We have people like Stephen Hawking, who understand pretty much everything. We have the Dalai Lama, who understands peace. We could convene a council of environmentalists, climate change scientists, experts on peace, motivation, history, and violence, extremism, religious and cultural leaders, First Nations, who were eco way before it was trendy, and our young people, who are tragically left out of these discussions and yet are inheriting all these issues. I don’t mind if world leaders are there too, but I don’t think that theirs should be the only voices since they represent other interests (primarily their political careers) and don’t necessarily prioritize peace or the environment. We could make adjustments to political structures to reward politicians for long-term planning.
We could, but we don’t, because we keep waiting for our elected officials to save us.
Right now, our youth are the canaries in the coal mine, gasping for air and dying of despair. My hope is that if we build hope back into the equation, we can shore them up to be stronger, better leaders than we are. We could challenge our current and emerging leaders to come up with some radical solutions that don’t start with the economy as the sole driver, but rather the longevity of the planet and our peaceful co-existence on it. We could consider peace and the planet as one issue. Dr. Goodall has warned that when resources become scarce, conflict will increase.
We could present radical ideas to the political leaders, who could consider them in the context of their peoples’ interests and their own geography and economy. We could ask people what they’re willing to do, what changes they can make for the good of us all. We don’t need everyone, nor a one-size-fits-all solution, but we need progress, a critical mass, and some really good leadership. If we succeed, this coming shift will be more significant than any of our previous major societal shifts. If we don’t, the economy will be the least of our concerns. Over the past 2000 years, we have been moving away from an agrarian lifestyle towards technology. Now we need to use technology to move us back into balance with the land.
We have industry leaders who understand that the economy and the environment are co-dependent, and that there is a future in investing in green energy. We will need their talents and energy as well.
We need womens’ voices to be heard. We need to hear from our LGBT communities, because they understand how to organize movements, and from our draft-dodgers and aging hippies, who were the last people to give Mother Earth a really good orgasm.
We need less societal narcissism and more collective movement. We need people who actually care about the future of the planet driving the policy. Let all the crazy tweets float by, unremarked. Constant attention just feeds the beast. Stop engaging, stop trying to convince that small minority of anything, and redirect your energy into something useful. Pick an issue. Work with others to work at it. Check out Roots&Shoots if you’re stuck for ideas. Many hands make light(er) work. Support companies that support the environment.
And while we’re at it with all the saving the world and such, let’s stop distracting our young women by constantly yanking away the carrot of impossible beauty standards. Let’s worry less about the length of a girl’s shorts and containing her sexuality and more about harnessing the power of her brain. They have better things to do. We’re better than this.
When the US cut funding for maternal health programs outside of the US, other countries rushed in to fill the void. The Paris accord isn’t much different. We all just need to work a little harder and stay focused on the task. Yes, Americans will benefit from our efforts, and a handful of them won’t deserve to, but that’s ok. We can work with the majority who want to fight climate change, and let those who believe that climate change is a hoax/that God is coming to save us/ that it’s not worth doing anyway to focus on themselves for a bit. The rest of us need to focus on the planet.
Thanks for reading, now get to work!
PS—anyone who needs a book to read and wants to learn more about the perils of avoiding action, might want to check out this book: