One of my go-to Nietzsche quotes is the one where he says “when you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss begins to look back into you”. And for years I had a get out (a CVE, for the classic Doctor Who geeks) from this – I could be climate activist/abyss-starer at night and weekends, and Sanctioned Good Person (I had a job that was indisputably socially useful and rewarding) by day.
Now, well, now it’s just abyss staring all day long, and the morale-maintenance thing is even harder since we as a species are running every red light on survival lane.
So, how do you keep hope alive?
Simples. You don’t.
Hope is a crock. Hope is a (self) – indulgence. What we need instead is courage (this observation is not mine, it’s Kate Marvel’s).
To keep “hoping” you have to be wilfully ignorant of physics, chemistry and political inertia. You have to be willing to suspend your critical faculties when some dreadful idiot, in legacy-mode, makes vague promises that she won’t have to fight for. You have to ignore that we have had 30 years of this crap, and it hasn’t worked.
Taking fake victories at face value strengthens the fakers, reassures the waverers that they don’t need to get involved, and does nothing to build our own capacity to tell the truth and expose lies (I forget who, but somebody said that that was the responsibility of intellectuals, no?)
Because I spend too much time on Twitter, I this morning saw this claim
“Climate de-nihilism is the new climate denialism”
Hmm. Not to centre me or anything, but… I often get accused of being nihilistic when I point out that current strategies/actions have failed in the past, & that we need to innovate. Fearful of 2nd half of that sentence, ppl ignore it, quote mine the 1st half to say “nihilist!”
Specifically I think back to an event a couple of weeks ago, when having pointed out that traditional methods had not worked in the past, I was accused of being negative, even when I had a very specific set of implementable proposals about how to do things differently. But ones which would de-centre the bosses, and force them to stop turning potential involved-people into ego-fodder.
And I keep saying, we’re only doomed for sure if we don’t innovate. But for various reasons, people don’t want to innovate. They want instead, it seems – or don’t have the courage to get out of – their smugosphere (it’s a great term, and the fact that people don’t like to be accused of being smug came as a shock to me: who knew?!)
There’s this post, about the fourth of January 2023, which I will re-write, re-polish, but it does for now.
Fwiw, my #oldfartclimateadvice – if you want a different outcome, you are going to have to behave differently (and be lucky). And that is going to require you to step a very long way outside your comfort zone, and keep stepping out of it. You will resist that, for a variety of reasons, not least the resentment that you don’t believe that you should have to, since you’re a Good Person. Sure, but we live in an unjust world (as 4/5ths of the world’s population, and all the other species with the exception maybe of domestic cats and dogs would tell you for free).
Suck it up.
Not simples, but so what.