Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate Change: "Lessons From the Edge"

"Lessons from the Edge"
by Sharon Astyk

"Sometimes when I deal with people who don’t think climate change is real, or that serious, or who don’t think that peak oil will be a big deal, I forget that I have something they don’t have – dozens of backroom conversations with people who care desperately about the mending of the world, who care so much that they are willing to put their family lives, their time and energy and even physical wellbeing on the line to spread the word - even though they know they are likely to fail to protect what they care most about. Not “we’re doomed” but “we’re on a precipice, and we’re not sure which way we’re going to begin to slide.”

And what also strikes me is this – the sheer courage it takes to do this. As I say, I’m a piker – I go home to my kids and my goats and breath deep and do laundry and keep my computer between me and other people. It would be easy to take from their sense of loss the idea that we should stop trying, that it is all hopeless. But that’s not what one gets – at the end of the night the sense is this – that though the odds are increasingly small and the abyss below us increasingly vast, what matters most is that we live our lives as though we can succeed, because every bit of harm we prevent and every blow softened matters, and in the end, how you lived matters as much as the winning. Most of what we do may not work, in the sense of preserving it all, but ought to preserve some -and some is a great deal when measured in human lives and happiness.

I can’t name all the people I’ve spoken with on these panels – or the not famous ones like them I meet who work just as hard and as bravely in their communities - but from them I have learned a great deal about courage and strength, and how to live in difficult times, about the value of work and life well lived, about managing fear and about what to hope for. What I hope for most is this – a planet full of people angry and frightened, telling dark jokes and laughing at them, worried and hopeful all together – people who get up every morning and do their share of this work, even if it seems it might not be enough, even if it hurts, even if they are tempted to let go and give in to despair, even if it means walking on the edge of dark places and along the abyss. I hope for people who do what is right, no matter what the outcome. And I feel I can hope for this among millions and billions, because I have seen such men and women, and I know that they are ordinary and they are real, and if they can do what they do, so can I. And so can you."

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