Are you Afraid?
I hear this a lot from friends and people I meet as I travel around.
You read a lot about climate change and the social justice threats on a rapidly warming planet. You read the science about what is going on–Does it frighten you? Are you afraid?
I can say I am concerned. So concerned that I took a year off to study climate science. These days I spend almost all of my time devising creative ways to get people see they have skin in the game. I work hard to convince them they have the power to make a difference.
Yes, I see risks ahead, more suffering in the world, climate instability. These are serious issues. But typically I do not feel gripped with fear. I am concerned but not frightened.
What is the opposite of fear?
Instead I feel: What an honor to be one of the people on the planet today. What an honor to join in with fellow earthlings to pursue solutions, not simply to avoid a catastrophe, but to work together to make the world a more stable, just, and peaceful place. It is an awful honor in ways, but one all the same to be not only witnesses to these vast global changes, but to also be able to take part in looking after each other as we provoke our specie to be humane in a time of climate change.
And strange as it may seem, I feel hope and faith–particularly in humans. I know it is the default setting these days to expect the worse in everyone. We have carved out our lives into warring camps. It is easy to lose confidence in government (corrupt! rigged! dysfunctional!)
Looking ahead and behind
But in addition to looking ahead to what the future may hold for us, I also study history. I look at how our ancestors faced massive challenges. They never responded perfectly. They made mistakes. At times there were outright abuses by some. But so often they rose to the challenge. They acted in extraordinary ways. They committed extreme acts of humanity.
I do not feel fear. I feel hope. I feel determination. I feel honored to be on the planet today. And I feel confidence that you will be historically significant in these strange and uncertain days ahead.