I went to Al Gore’s Climate Reality training this week. It was a train-the-trainer; I can now give his presentation. There were over 1,000 other folks from all over the world receiving this training this week. It was really inspirational! We can DO this!
And yet… learning the latest about what we’ve done to the earth was really hard. It was devastating to get all the detailed scientific information about what’s going on.
We Need New Words For Grief
It happened the first time I read the details about global warming, and it happened again this week. The reality of climate change is so devastating, that I just end up hurting for us all.
We need a new language. We need new words for grief, for fear. Because the words we have cannot begin to describe the feeling of knowing that human civilization is on the brink of – what? Destroying itself and our Mother Earth. We need new words. We need new contexts. Even as I write what we are on the brink of, I sound too much like the crazy dude with the long, knotted hair and dirty clothes, running around screaming, “The End Is NEAR!!” Mr. Crazytown.
How can I properly express what is happening, without sounding insane? And how can I express what I’m feeling, when at no other time in history has humanity actually managed to change the entire earth’s ecosystems – OUR ecosystems – to the point where civilization, as well as myriad non-human life forms, may very well come to an end? There is no previous context for this. There are no words. If there ever were, those words were lost long ago along with their extinct civilizations.
Besides not wanting others to think I’m over-dramatizing, I also don’t really want to share this pain. This is such a huge grief for us humans and for our planet. New language – species grief? Extinction grief? Even “grief” is a small word compared to this feeling. I don’t want to spread this kind of despair!
Al’s Take on Hope and Despair
Al Gore talked about struggling with hope and despair. It was a relief to hear him validate this emotional struggle. He talked about knowing that our work to stop or even mitigate climate change may not be enough… and yet not giving up. Trying to change things anyway. That having deeply meaningful work is a great good. I know it is; it is a privilege to have work such as this.
He’s right. And – I’m sure Cassandra didn’t like being Cassandra. She didn’t want to see what she saw. She didn’t want to be right in her predictions. And how many prophets in the Bible cried out to God to have their visions changed, their responsibility to spread the truth removed? Neither do our scientists really want to be right about what they’re seeing. I’m sure many of them are wishing they could find real errors in the data – and so do I!
But – we have proof all around us. We’ve just experienced the 327th month in a row of higher than normal temperatures. Reality is reality.
Acceptance is the First Step
To move forward, we need to find a way to accept the truth about what we’ve done to the earth. For myself, I must find a way to accept the feelings that come with that truth. Because only when we accept reality, can we begin to figure out how to handle it.
I’ve been thinking about the support systems I already have in place. There are my emotional support systems – friends and co-counselors. Then there are spiritual tools, such as meditation, prayer and other spiritual practices. We cannot allow our – well. I cannot allow my pain and fear to lull me into sweet denial and stop me from speaking up. I am now tasked with giving Climate Reality presentations, here in the USA, wherever I can. So I must find a way to spread the truth: We Americans have to face that climate change is real, it’s caused by CO2, and the time to stop using fossil fuels is NOW. #Reality!
As Long as There is Life, There is…
Hope. Humans are capable of great things. We MUST get off fossil fuels asap – but – we can. When JFK issued the call to go to the moon in 1962, many scoffed. 8 years later, we were on the moon. There are so many other stories… Ghandhi and Martin Luther King. Suffragists, abolitionists… all were up against impossible odds. But they persevered. They overcame. I have to believe that we can too.
Please share with me your favorite stories and examples, from all over the world, of humans doing the extraordinary, the impossible. Let us build a library of inspiration. We’re going to need it.