I’m writing this to clarify a few things for myself.
Speaking with a colleague a few days ago touched me profoundly.
The growing gaps in birdsong brought home to me that, in important ways, this world is dying.
Shocked to type that, shocked to hear myself speak it out yesterday.
Seeing more clearly the emergence of planetary emergency.
So, how should I act, in the face of this overwhelming and complex situation?
I’m currently seeing some areas of action for myself, and some blind alleys.
The first, and most obvious action is to look at my personal choices and make some adjustments – is it possible to eat less dairy, grow more food, eat more locally? Yes it is.
Are there journeys I can make by public transport, rather than driving or flying? Are there long journeys I can simply not make? Yes there are.
Can I use less plastic, buy secondhand, be careful about sourcing the materials and objects I use in my life? Keep things working for longer? Not much scope for change there at the moment – I’m pretty careful here.
What about banking, energy, water? Yes – there are changes I can make there, both short and long term.
The second change is to more actively engage in my relationship with the other-than-human, to spend time in receptive humility amongst plants, animals, insects, hills, rivers, the weather, fungus etc. Yes – this is something I can change. I am lucky in this respect – I have access to a relatively quiet outdoor space, and no strong yearning or need to be amongst the foreign beings of far away lands.
The third change is to be more actively engaged with initiatives which make a positive difference, this could be charity, or policy work, campaigning, theatre, or taking part in direct ecological restoration. I’m a bit stuck with this one at the moment – I don’t currently see my way to joining or forming a community of activists. What I can do though, is to keep looking, and keep trying things out, stay open to finding my way…
….and a couple of blind alleys:
Making changes in my personal choices is absolutely not the same as giving myself a hard time about the changes I don’t make! There is no ecological advantage in eating a fast food meal and then feeling bad about it! So, time to drop the guilt, and focus on small adjustments, real changes, rather than imagined changes.
It would be, in my view, ironic for me to travel great distances by air to contemplate nature! Can I engage with the other-than-human that is here now?
Action with others – I can so easily confuse this with action at others. Can I act quietly, build projects organically, avoid grandiosity? For me this is a matter of finding my work, the piece of the jigsaw that this human has to offer. I see how I could become confused, start mistakenly thinking about the right way, and fall into haranguing both myself and others – which is not my work at this time.
In all of this, at this particular time for myself I recognise a need for gentleness, for quiet listening. Which is not to say that fierceness and firmness will not also have their rightful place.
Stephen Tame – Oct 2017