What is a Person to DO??

Just returned from a conference on climate change in Toronto. Excellent workshops & speakers & later also some time spent chatting & strategizing with fellow activists (some of whom I’d known before the conference, plus a couple new acquaintances).

Bought a copy of Eaarth – Making Life on a Tough New Planet, by Bill McKibben – long-time environmental activist/writer & founder of 350.org & now major push behind 10/10/10 - "Global Work Party."

If there is one book you really ought to read right about now, it’s this one. It’s chockfull of wildly sobering facts about climate change & what needs to be done about it. McKibben has me thoroughly on-side with his view that from here on in, we must learn to deal with a changed Earth. It simply isn’t the place it used to be – between one thing & another, with climate change in a starring role – & so there isn’t much point in making plans the way we used to, for a place that has changed – & is changing utterly, as we speak.

Also watched a short film called “Climate Change: Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns?” – & I’ll write more about that another day (you can watch the film free at that link I just gave you, btw...).

The main thing I want to say right now is this:

The question “What is a person to do??” is one that rings inside my own head often. Well, daily. Or even moment-ly, you might say.

Those of us who are activists feel as though we really need to clone ourselves. There is just so very, very much that needs doing. (And still so many folks caught in that deer-in-the-headlights stunned immobility stance.)

As previously referenced, I’m an addictive reader. Another book I gobbled up on the weekend (for relief, I suppose, from the so-sobering facts about climate change), was Grace (Eventually) – Thoughts on Faith, by American writer Anne Lamott, another of my very favourite writers. I’d read this one before, but it was a perfect time to re-read it, & I did, with great enjoyment, amusement, & appreciation.

In the essay ‘Bastille Day,’ Lamott tells about her cool idea (in 2006) for a Bastille Day event.(1) She’d floated the idea on Salon (an entity about which I am ignorant; one can only keep up with so many things, hmm?) & had talked about it some during a book tour. As she put it in the essay, “In the Spring of 2006, I believed that good people who had watched their country’s leaders skid so far to the triumphal right would want to do something. I mean, wouldn’t they? Otherwise, those people’s children would ask them someday, when we would all be living in caves, “What did you do to try to save us?” And the children would be angry, and …”

But when July 14th arrived, as it turned out, Lamott herself really didn’t feel up to the revolution. She’d kind of run out of steam, & besides, hadn’t actually coordinated with any local friends, & so decided to take a pass but after watching CNN for a while, she became “agitated.”

And as she tells it, “And then I did the single most important thing one can do to save the world: I got up off my butt.”

And went downtown & stood on the sidewalk for a few hours with a placard that read “One People. One Planet. One Future.”

God I love reading this woman!! Her writing is brilliant. She is laugh-out-loud funny, wondrously compassionate and searingly honest – about herself, which turns out to mean she exposes the nasty underbelly we all have. And then you don’t feel so bad about your own all-too-numerous faults & failings.

But back, finally, to the question raised by this post.

What is a person to DO?

Why, get up off your butt, of course!


P.S. You could definitely become involved in the 10/10/10 initiative. The idea behind this is to DO some practical things on October 10, 2010, that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions & demonstrate to our “leaders” that we the people (all over the world) are taking action, so we can then ask them “What are YOU doing??” & put their feet to the fire so they start to do what needs to be done!

P.P.S. The 10/10/10 site will give you plenty of ideas. Here are a few that flew right off my pen onto the page as I was drafting this post:

  • Plant a tree (or a whole bunch of them. Maybe 350??)
  • Put up a wind turbine or solar panels
  • Plan & construct a bike path
  • Sell your gas guzzler
  • Buy a transit pass
  • Buy a bike
  • Cut your electricity consumption – at home, at work, at church…wherever!
  • Write to a politician or better yet, politicians at every level of government
  • Become politically active!!!!! Ensure that candidates of integrity are elected
  • Distribute brochures about something to family members if, like me, you’re Canadian & will be seeing family for Thanksgiving dinner on October 10th – I’ll be distributing ones about OntariosGreenFuture.ca, from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (I’ll do other stuff too – but this one is so simple I can’t say no to it!!)
  • Donate money toward groups working to shut down the Alberta tar sands [this post lists & links to numerous short films about the tar sands]
  • Organize a public event…boycott…whatever…

(As you can see, the possibilities here are truly infinite!!)

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “If the people lead, eventually, the leaders will follow.” – Source unknown

(1) Inspired by a novel her father had written, The Bastille Day Parade, in which he’d had protesters use the slogan, “Turn off the Lie Machine.” Wow. Gotta love that line!!