See here for Climate Change “Inner Work” link.
Wow to the Extinction Rebellion activists for what they’ve accomplished in the last ten days. Just wow! Particularly in London, England, but worldwide – including where I am in Ottawa Canada and probably in your country too – ordinary people / activists brought a huge new intensity to the climate emergency.[If you missed this dramatic upscaling of the climate movement – the mainstream media outside of England largely ignored it – you can catch up here. Lots on youtube too under Extinction Rebellion!]
How does this affect us personally? That’s a question I’m asking myself. I’ve become more aware of my private climate denial, even in the last week. I’ve known the facts and intellectually explored the terrain of climate change for a long time. I wrote a book that’s partly about how unconscious social pressures keep us from questioning and moving past social norms lest we be excluded and “not belong.” We’re expected to minimize climate change without even noticing, as part of being a normal citizen. But my knowledge didn’t stop me from being much more silent than I could have been. And it didn’t lead me to action.
That’s why I think what’s happening now is so important: Recent actions by Extinction Rebellion have, to a degree, changed the social norm and increased the permission level to take climate change very very seriously. And that opens up the door to changing everything. To use another house object metaphor, everything’s on the table now.
AND … bringing the abstract knowledge of climate change down into the body and into our social relationships will take time, energy and work for each individual. It’s not done for us. Even if we can see the road we still have to walk it. Learning how to do that with integrity and yes, joy, even as we don’t look away, is the challenge. How much do we actually want it? A friend pointed out this week, you can check your commitment to something you want when you look back later at what actually happened. If something else happened it was because you had a hidden agenda you didn’t want to see – maybe you wanted something easier.
I feel encouraged when I look around me at how others are being. This moment is like canoeing in white water. At a certain point you simply can’t turn back. It’s too late to turn back. You are committed to the river. It’s not that you decide to be committed at that point. You are committed! And I’m glad I have company for whom there is no going back.
Because . . .
The climate emergency means system change and system change doesn’t happen through individual consciousness alone. It happens (s**t happens) when numbers of individuals freely contribute their vital energy and intelligence to something greater than themselves. It happens when they do it freely even if there are other voices in them that aren’t so sure, that are scared, anxious, uncertain, cynical, or wanting escape. It’s normal to not be all aligned all the time.
At least I hope it is because I hear those other voices too. The enormity of the task ahead can hardly be overstated. Collectively, we humans have to avert, or more likely minimize, vast climate effects that are already in motion and that are likely to happen at a scale we’re not familiar with. Unprecedented challenge pushes us up against our previous limits and puts choices before us that, by their nature, we don’t know how to navigate. We’ll have to go beyond ourselves to meet them.
That’s why naming the personal challenges and their extent is important because suddenly, knowing together what we’re facing, we don’t have to hide. Talking frankly, and especially listening to others, brings relief and ease, puts the Presence in this present moment.
You’re invited to join a free exploration of the “inner work” side of climate change online this Sunday at 3pm Eastern time. Details are here.
(Feature photo of Ottawa action by John MacDonald. Click for set.)