Sunday was a big day of protests against our government’s woeful response to climate change. They are actually planning to dismantle measures put in place by the previous government. The loss of the carbon price seems inevitable and yet 60,000 people across the country turned out to protest their intention to repeal it.
I showed my support by participating in a Yatra in Sherbrooke forest above Belgrave. We walked about 7km (the Grants picnic ground loop if you know the area) in silence interspersed with readings and deep ecology exercises from Joanna Macy.
It was a lovely way to do deep ecology, dwarfed by the mountain ash forest and held by it as we walked in silent solidarity. I was so quickly embraced by the little group although I’d only just met most of them. I guess you don’t show up for something like that unless you have a particular spiritual bent and it’s a pretty deep place to start from.
It’s reassuring to see the diversity of people who are engaged with deep ecology. I look forward to the day when Yatras become like 5rhythms and you can be sure there’s one happening somewhere every weekend. We’re building what we need to sustain ourselves not just in environmental activism but in life.
Recently I’ve been making connections between a variety of different ideas but haven’t known how to articulate them. There is something about the human need for meaning, belonging and importance that connects to our environmental crisis.
On the one hand I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle and Brene Brown. I’ve found enormous personal insight in their work and it has helped me to push myself toward being a better and happier person. In the face of environmental crisis it might seem like this personal journey is self-indulgent but it’s not.
Consumption is driven by numbing behaviour, when we take the time to say “I am enough, I have enough, I am grateful” and do the work to believe it and feel it. Then we are freed from the need to consume mindlessly. That’s not even the half of it though, we have gifts to offer the world that we squander in our mindlessness. We are not fulfilling our potential as a species because our greatest creative gifts are burried beneath a flood of stuff.
The pursuit of money over meaning is killing us.
This week I attended three days of training on the Art of Hosting. On one level what we learned was a collection of tools and group processes for engaging people in generating creative solutions to social problems. What the hosts modeled though were ways to keep people present and engage in meaningful conversation. They drew the group to recognise our common humanity, to step out from behind our professional identities, engage with what matters to us and apply it to our work.
Meaningful conversation is fundamental to society’s transition from destruction to sustainability. When we make peace with the present moment we stop trying to impose our will on the world and come to appreciate what is given and what we have to give. As we realise our fundamental worth we stop needing to prove it with bigger, better, faster, more and we naturally make space for others to be present and call forth their better/higher/buddha nature. This creates the grounds for genuine dialogue, it’s the only way that change can happen and the only way we can come up with the kind of creative and innovative solutions we need.
There are a whole series of articles over at The Conversation at the moment about various aspects of environmental crisis. This one is particularly pertinent in the sense that we can’t keep dealing with single issues and ignoring the root of the problem. Mind you it is a little alarmist. I get that there is a crisis and we have to do something but fear mongering seems to have limited effectiveness in changing people’s behaviour.
This video from Doing it Ourselves pretty much sums up the situation and also offers a vision of hope for the future.
I’m very interested in exploring the kind of society we could create together that is inherently sustainable. Ultimately it’s going to take all of us, many paths, one mountain so I’m not going to stop anyone from doing what they think is important. But I want to put my energy towards connecting people, building a resilient, mindful community. I’m not pessimistic, people will either change by choice or they will be forced to change by circumstances. It’s pretty clear that change is on the cards.