• We're All Environmentalists Now

    In summer the dog days persist but it feels as though things have not been the same for a while now. And I don’t just mean the referendum. Protests continue, campaigners crack on but somehow, for my part, it’s as if other things are calling, some sense that all of this, certainly for now, is no longer for me. Partly that’s from necessity’s sake. Partly it’s that all the old issues are now well rehearsed, however current they remain. But they’re being increasingly taken up to a place and pitch and time beyond their inception, better for a wider audience, in no way reduced for being removed from those early warning signs which did so much to stir us all up.

    But maybe too, I’m coming to a fresh appraisal of just what the kind of change we need can look like and how old mantras serve to help or hinder this. For many it’s a question of staying engaged; ‘we have to be active’ the mentality goes, nothing means anything if it is not carved out from our efforts and stress. But what if it is this very act of exclusion - where activists are rendered some kind of high caste, doing the right thing for everyone’s sake, absolving wider society of all its sins, a minority acting so the rest of us don’t have to, tipping the scales without opening up – what if this mentality of expectation of the active and concerned is as much part of the problem as anything else?

    It would be easy to misunderstand such a sentiment. And it may seem perverse when there are no shortage of issues that must be contended or engaged with. Environmental concerns in particular present us with a kind of white heat. The urgency of the threat of irreparable harm builds up on our consciences. It’s all or nothing, now or never, an unparalleled cause for alarm. But my point is that we should respond to these things as a wider society and culture, not hold out the hope that a relatively small group of people, and especially any one person over anyone else, hold the key to our deliverance.

    Protest can be utilised, can become a kind of repository for a people’s wishes and concerns. If only Swampy rose again, the thinking seems to be, and rid us of the problems we all face. So many people abdicate their power in this way. There is some other agency still out there they believe, who stand to do what each of us would like to. Despite such mindsets, activism will always retain a great force. And while its role can set any given activist apart, it can also help galvanise so many others in its wake. Clearly, now, the need is as great as ever. But we should not let the power of a people be carried by only the ‘usual suspects’; buoyed or weary as they all may be.

    As far as all the issues go, nothing now can change our wishes or intent, except the knowledge that, however we respond, we must never lose sight of our humanity, whatever the scale of that which we face. And while those issues may still stay a current force, other ways to make our voices heard remain. Active hope is a close cousin of involvement. But art and prayer and daily choices as to how we lead our lives still have their place among seemingly more immediate currencies.

    I have no doubt that every one of us can make a difference, whether in our actions, our speech or simply our intent. At this point in time, the need to create such a difference is huge. But however we do it, we can all still engage with the things that we know to be true, things that may lift us above a given ‘us or them’ or ‘you and I’ or any other ‘other’ than a face of faceless corporate greed.

    In the meantime it may be enough just to walk, in fortitude or stubbornness, without expectation but with the knowledge that somehow, somewhere down the horizon we may get to a place more fitting for the real potential of these times. This may not be an easy thing that we can take for granted but it still sits as a promise, or even something more immediate, if we can only see it and will it and bring it to bear.

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branchlines

The posts here originally grew from a website that was set up to advertise a book that describes things a long time ago. That book was always intended to address more than any single issue, even if it encompassed that as well.

At its broadest, I hoped it could help express how things can be when anyone of us acts on behalf of the environment, of their community, of our collective future itself. It was informed by far more than simply the times it describes; it was an attempt to articulate a feeling that has carried on and grown and means more than just a narrow 'us and them'.

I'm mainly working on other writing at the moment but thought there was probably something to be said for keeping these posts online while the issues they deal with remain relevant. I hope you find something on these pages that proves of interest or use as we all rise to meet the new times.

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