This inspirational quotation by Vivian Greene popped into my head recently as I was reading Naomi Klein’s extraordinary book “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate”. If you haven’t yet read this book, then I recommend (no, I insist) that you do.
Klein does a remarkable job not only of laying out the scope of the climate challenges facing us, but she’s able to get underneath these challenges and address their root causes. While it has long been understood that our climate problems emanate from our profligate and wasteful lifestyles, Klein masterfully separates reality from mythology and clearly demonstrates that the primary driver of climate change is the socioeconomic infrastructure that we’ve allowed to increasingly dominate our lives, particularly in the western world, for the past hundred years or so. She asserts that climate change is not so much about ecological or atmospheric processes (they are, in fact, symptoms of the problem) but it is about inequality, greed and the irresponsible exercise of power. If we limit our responses to dealing only with the symptoms, we’ll never fix the problem – we have to attack the source.
That’s a daunting concept, to be sure. But, she asks – and this is the genius at the heart of this book – what if we simply change the perspective? What if we stop looking at climate change as a monumental problem that has to be overcome? What if, instead, we look at it as the best opportunity we’ll ever have to turn our decrepit, immoral and malicious socio-economic system upside down (or, more appropriately, right-side up)?
One way or another, everything we now accept as “normal” is going to change. And soon. How it changes depends on us – at least for a little while yet. We can choose to desperately hold on to the status quo, to let the wealthy hang on to their wealth and the power that comes with it, while we try to hang on to what’s left for us. We can choose to let inequality continue to grow, to let greed continue to rule the day. We can passively continue to wait for something to change for the better, for a miracle cure, for someone else to find a solution.
Or, we can choose a different path. Even while the storm continues to rage around us, we can learn to dance.
We can each say to our self “The solution starts with me, and I will not simply leave the problem to someone else. I will do what I can.” We can look forward with enthusiasm and with energy, good will mutual respect and a faith in one another. We can join together with our neighbours and friends, and mobilize toward building a just economy, founded on fairness and equity. And we can learn to dance. The inherent beauty of this is that, in reality, it is not all that difficult. If you think about it, most of the change that is required is in our heads. If it’s in your head, you can fix it. You have the real power.
So, what’s your choice? I’m learning to dance.