Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hope is a renewable resource

As an environmentalist or someone who cares about social justice do you find yourself losing hope at times? It is easy to lose hope in the face of peak oil, environmental collapse, social injustice, climate change and increasingly totalitarian methods employed by large corporations and governments working at their behest. If you find yourself starting to despair, start working with young activists and you will soon find that hope is a renewable resource

I recently met with members of Canadian Youth Climate Coalition last night. They are all teens or in their early 20s. They are going to save the Earth. I really believe this. If you look at what people over 30 have done to this planet, young people appear to be our only hope. They are not fixed in their ways of thinking -- they are open-minded. For this reason, my bet is on them to change things, to move us collectively in a hopeful direction ...

The latest article from George Monbiot tell us why this matter is so urgent: A Sudden Change of State This really puts things into perspective ... What Hansen's report tell us is that we are not at some ordinary political juncture, but rather at the end of a 10,000 year period of stability in which civilizations flourished, allowed to exist due to stable weather patterns. That is no longer the case. Between peak oil and climate change this civilization is on precipice of collapse. That is why it is absurd to speak of economic priorities as George Bush or Steven Harper routinely do, to excuse inaction on climate change. It is like worrying about how much money is in your pocket while trapped inside a burning house. Please refer to Edward O. Wilson to get a sense of the how immense this change is:

Many people feel we are at the tipping point or past it. I am not sure of that; like many others I have hope that we can save a lot of the Earth, although it will be a Pyrrhic victory, or in military terms, a rearguard action, saving some species and peoples (and losing many others, despite best efforts) through extraordinary effort -- but what other choice is there for a person who follows his or her conscience? If you are looking for an author who looks the really big picture, I would refer you to Thomas Berry who speaks, more hopefully, in terms of our transition to an "Ecological Age":

I like Berry's phrase: "The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects." Our division from the natural world and objectification of it, led to this impasse. Embracing a more holistic vision of our place in the natural world -- having a biocentric rather than anthrocentric worldview -- is a prerequisite for continued survival in any sort of meaningful way. Berry is a visionary. He tries to embrace universal wisdoms beyond that given by the immediate culture. His heart is open to aboriginal wisdom, holistic visions, simplicity. We all need to adopt his way of thinking, not only because it is right, but because collective survival depends on it.

At National Aboriginal Day I met several young people who impressed me as having that vision. One was Thalia, an artist and volunteer with "Earth Day Canada ecoMentors." See

She sent an email: "I have been 'ecoMentoring' Elementary school students with my own original lesson plans. These special lessons are always interactive and have a sense of play as the young students learn about themselves, their culture and the many connections with planet Earth. It donned on me that I am one human in the interconnected web of billions. There is a diverse range of cultural teaching methods, so let us these methods. As a multicultural Canada, let us learn from the aboriginal peoples of this land. Let us use aboriginal teachings in our school system . . ."

Shayla, who writes for this blog, is another young person who cares enough to become an activists. Check out her blog at

I hope that people like those in the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and SACC will be representative of those determining the future. They are part of a worldwide movement to help shape society through countless acts of good will and life-affirmative creativity. As Gandhi said, "be the change you wish to see in the world."

- Paul York

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