While Australia burned over Summer and the fragility of our eco-systems were uncovered, the majority of us still had difficulty having meaningful conversations about the causes, impacts and possible solutions to climate change. Humans ..we have to start talking! We are no longer able to keep the impact of climate change at a distance, the rise in people’s eco-anxiety and despair is on our doorstep more than the sea levels. We must also remember all feelings are valid, some of us are grief stricken by the loss of half a billion animal life, others are angered by the lack of political will to legislate for environmental protections and many feel powerless in the face of the enormity of what we must do to reverse contributing factors. But where to start?
‘Ignorance is no longer bliss’
There is a common trait among the inspiring change-makers we follow, at some point in their lives they could no longer ‘un-see’ a problem they felt moved by, whether that feeling originated from despair or great love (or both - think koalas!) this is probably acutely true for most of the younger people in your life, they will not be able to unsee the effects of climate change for obvious reasons. So how might we encourage each other into better communication and action and help transform some of the anxiety?
Firstly, we can’t address a problem we don’t talk about. Kari Norgaard coined the term ‘socially organised denial’ to describe why our collective brains shut down when faced with climate conversations. We don’t like to talk about the problem because it challenges three ideas we desperately hold onto a) most of us want to think of ourselves as good people, b) we want to believe our world is constant and secure and c) we want to believe we have agency over situations. But climate change has destabilised all three. We feel guilty about our disposable lives, our seasons are disappearing and we think that there is no way individuals can make a difference.
‘When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves’ Frankle
Here at The Possibility Project we are passionate about change from within, especially shifting the way we see things (to help us with the un-seeing bit). One of the simplest attitudes to bring to your climate conversations is gratitude. Gratitude is an expression of ‘enoughness’, yours and others. It helps to transform guilt, when we remember we are enough, we are less likely to think of ourselves as anything other than ‘good’, our actions may not always be good, but our essence always remains so. Gratitude helps us to remember that everybody’s intrinsically adaptive spirit is the most renewable resource to move with change and not be afraid of it. And gratitude, our essential enoughness, is just that - every choice you make is powerfully enough.
The middle can be messy!
We are in difficult times, but we are also at a time of great opportunity to call Truth to power. Kanters Law ‘everything can look like a failure in the middle’ is being expressed everywhere, As we are at best guided, and at worst pushed to adopt behavioural change, we hope you remember that you are a powerful force shaping the future, so keep moving through the middle. Take up a practice that strengthens your intuition, speak to Mother Earth, meditate, be still, become familiar with your heartspace - the essence of all of this is gratitude (it also sounds a bit like the Middle Path in Buddhism, where failure is encouraged!), all these will provide you with a language of possibility that will wholeheartedly guide you through all climates and conversations.
Kath and Kim