26 June 2011

Shame, Sin, Sacrifice and Sanction

All these Ss have been rolling around in my head this week. Shame. Sin. Sacrifice. Sanction. (The most insistent S-word these days is "surreal," which is how the whole climate change scene of increasing urgency and zero action feels, but that's for another day.)

Many cultures around the world have crawled out from under the thumb of organized religion, but we've perhaps thrown the baby out with the holy water. Religion served some important purposes (putting judgement aside for the moment). Religion was keeper of the taboos, for example.

But taboos have all but disappeared in the western world of "get anything and do anything you want, whenever you want." Shame is rarely a successful tool anymore in helping people learn the difference between right and wrong. Sin has become a virtue. Sacrifice? Ha! And sanctions? Well, check out the unemployment rate of black South Africans ... apartheid never really disappeared, despite the campaign of economic sanctions.

So, would it be worthwhile, for the sake of the future of all children, to bring back shame, sin, sacrifice and sanction? Could we have some impact merely by bringing these concepts up in private and public conversations about climate change and its mitigation? You know, reintroducing them as valid ways to point our societies in the direction of zero carbon and doing what's right by our children.

As someone who pays attention when the natural world is trying to tell me something, I have to share that two pileated woodpeckers just flew by and started pecking at the trees outside my window. Message there? Keep hammering away at it! Any way we can.

Winston Churchill once said, "You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

He also said, "When you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack."
Yeah, "nice" doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. Maybe it's time to start rubbing people's faces in their shameful displays of profligate and uncaring greenhouse gas emitting. Like ... "Hey, lady, you must be pretty ashamed of yourself, idling your car like that when there's absolutely no reason to. You're killing your grandchildren, you know!" Or ... "Dear Mr. Prime Minister, shame on you for being unwilling to sacrifice any fossil fuel profits at all to ensure your children and mine a viable future."

Shame, sin, sacrifice, sanction. Remember the woodpeckers. Let's start driving these ideas home!

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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?