17 October 2009

50 Days - A GUEST BLOG "Hope…or Action?"

A friend I've made online, Janet McNeill, recently posted something on hope in the face of the climate crisis that really resonated for me. She's given me permission to repost it here. Thanks, Janet. And have a great International Day of Climate Action on Saturday!


I’ve been doing environmental work for 20 years now. Hoping, always hoping, that if I just worked hard enough, informed enough people, wrote enough environment columns, carried out enough projects, I’d help “save” the human race.

I’ve been in awfully fine company, I must say! I’ve had more good times than a barrelful of monkeys (several barrels-full, actually) and have made a small (no, large!) army of awesome friends. And taken part in oodles of great projects and activities I’m pretty proud of. No regrets!

Gradually, over time, hope has been harder and harder to summon up. To be honest, it’s pretty much left the building.

It’s been hard to let go of. It’s felt almost … un-Canadian, or un-sportsmanlike?? Un-mother-like? — to abandon hope.

I am thinking today, though, that as it turns out, it really isn’t hope we need. It’s determination, energy, guts, courage, hard work, passion, inspiration — and love. For this beautiful, beautiful planet — and for all the creatures on it (ourselves included).

I’ve realized recently — mostly in reference to the personal side of my life — that it really is action that counts. Thoughts and beliefs and faith and what we (often sanctimoniously) profess to believe (or feel) — or claim we will do — are not what really counts. It’s action. It’s what we do that matters. Not what we say.

Alice Walker has said, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.”

I wonder: Are enough of us really paying our rent?


P.S. There is a very brilliant Derrick Jensen essay called “Beyond Hope” that can be found at http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/170/ Take a few moments and read it! It’s pretty bloody eloquent…and very inspiring.

P.P.S. I don’t mean to discourage people who are still “hopeful.” More power to you! I’m not saying it’s an either/or proposition. I’m just saying that, for those of us who have lost hope, and/or who believe that “hope” is not really the point, we still have something left with which to occupy ourselves. Action. And that’s a good thing – in my little world, anyway….
By the way, Janet, I've decided that "stamina" needs to go on your list of the things we need in order to keep on keeping on in the fight to safeguard the planet and the future. I might have to take up a caffeine habit if we don't get a few more people helping out.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?