Having now been at COP22 (the UNFCCC annual global climate change conference) for two days, and being here now on the day after the US election, one thing is glaringly clear from a contextual perspective: People relate to government as where the real power lies. A sense of paralysis and panic now hangs over the proceedings, as delegates and NGO’s assess the impact of a Trump presidency on their work. As a colleague of mine said as we passed each other this morning “If the US goes anti-climate, all of this is for naught.”
This I think brings us to the opportunity at hand. And I don’t mean some “silver lining, let’s put a nice positive spin on the situation” opportunity. I mean the hard fought “having looked squarely into the abyss and finding yourself and the path forward in what emerges” opportunity. The opportunity born of the confront of the stark horror of the situation and not that of optimistic denial.
Part of what got us into this mess is the notion that government is where the power lies, and that it is government’s job to make life good for us. Neither of which were the case in the origins of government and which have slowly year by year crept into our consciousness, to the point where a Donald Trump becomes the answer. And so it follows that as government-yielding compatriots, we are collectively screwed.
The opportunity, should we choose to seize it, the opportunity that is at the heart of 2020 or Bust, is to shift our collective context to one of power lies with the people. It is the power of the individual, and individuals collectively aligned in vision and action, that is what makes the difference. It is “we, the people” not “we, the governed” who will end the climate crisis. And who happens to be President is simply that – who happens to be President.
This is no way ignores the Hell that could be coming our way in the diplomatic and political arena to have as our President a man who denies climate change, who has vowed to extract the US from the Paris Agreement, and who has pledged to dismantle Obama’s climate change structures and legislation. All of that is to be faced and dealt with head on, and at the same time, not seen as deal-breakers. If the road we choose is ours, of our own design, construction and navigation, then Trump and all he brings is simply a speed bump, not a brick wall.
Ending the climate crisis was never going to happen as a function of legislation, diplomacy or agreements. Those are all advantageous to have, they do make a difference, and those who have been at this grueling business of climate change for years and who have developed and ratified those agreements and legislation are to be appreciated for the incredible work they have done.
What will end the crisis is action, not legislation, not governments, not diplomats, not conference rooms full of people in suits with badges around their necks. But as long as we subscribe to the myth that that is what will end the crisis, as long as we sit back and relate to government as our keepers and saviors, then we are screwed. Not by the facts, but by our own delusion.
This can be a time of great awakening. This can be a time of great power. But only if we wake ourselves from the trance of codependency with our governments and realize that no one is going to make it better for us. And they’re not supposed to.
The power is ours, the climate crisis is ours, the power to end it lies with you, with me, with us all. Rather than mourning the day, let’s seize it!