You in the Climate Change Ecosystem

A reality I’ve been slow to see is that the social contract we grew up with is connected to vast pools of loneliness and isolation . . . and that these are central drivers of our climate predicament. This social isolation is particularly difficult to see because in order to see it, you (we/I) have to step outside of it, witness it. Only then can you see where we were, where we came from. Otherwise, like the oft-cited fish in the water, we can’t see or feel where we are. And where we are is in a social system that, to a great degree, is organized around tokens of worth and status, represented by money. And this underlying structure affects us deeply and intimately. Our lives easily become about fitting into it. The economic system and the social system are inseparable like the chicken and the egg, parts of each other. 

Here’s a chunk to digest, unless you’d rather spit it out because it’s not too tasty. Or maybe you know it already. It’s that we can’t meet the intense targets for CO2 reductions  without changing the economic system we have. And we can’t change the economic system without changing the social system because they’re really different views of the same thing. And further, we can’t change the social system without changing ourselves. Everything that’s made us us has come about within the structure of the society that is currently failing and that needs to change.

The economic system, the social system, and little ole us are all parts of the very same thing. As this slowly starts to come into focus for us, and even when snippets of it do, we more or less immediately start to gravitate toward a new way of being together. The ones who feel the same disenfranchisement / reinfranchisement start to drift together. They’re hearing the same music.

Of the three systems, economic, social and personal, the social system  is, perhaps the easiest to work with, the most amenable to change. For one thing it almost immediately makes demands on us as individuals to treat each other differently and in a way that’s often engaging and fun. The economic system is more deeply buried and so  it’s easier to ignore and keep it out of sight for a while. But it’s there. I’ve been going to a wonderful festival in the woods near where I live near Ottawa, Canada for almost 40 years (Blue Skies). Much of the festival could have been part of a fair from the middle-ages. It’s a wonderful fantasy. But you go down the laneway past the gate and scattered in the woods are fields of cars from all over the world and a great deal of money underwriting the freedom festivities.

So activism’s effectiveness is tied into an ecosystem that contains social, personal, and economic aspects, none of which can be left out. It seems to me that to the extent we don’t know that, then under pressure activism will tend to become reactive, which is basically where the revolutions of the past started and ended.

In short, if we’re to reach our CO2 reduction goals, which radically change the economic structure, we’ll also have to invest deeply, and perhaps personally in the social structure. That basically means paying attention to the aspirations and gifts of activists, their individuality, rather than assuming these will take care of themselves or  be nobly overridden for “the cause.”

And we can’t do all this en masse or all at once either, just the little part of it we have in front of us. And that we can do.

Your comments are a kind of love and are very welcome.

Posted in Activism, Belonging, climate change, deep adaptation, Essays, What I learned today.

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