The front cover of Time Magazine on April 26, 2021, was “Climate Is Everything”. In the opening paragraph of the lead article, the writers stated “…it’s become clear: in every aspect of what comes next – how we plan, build, sell, educate, legislate, move, create – the shared ingredient is addressing climate change”. So, if the climate is everything, then everything that I do must reflect this reality.
In the book “Struggle Makes Us Human”, Vijay Prashad talks about the many struggles we face and the challenges we encounter in bringing about change, especially among those of us who are underprivileged and poor: “because change doesn’t happen from dream to reality, change happens from reality, to struggle, to the future”, stated Prashad.
We can’t dream about the past and a world that has significantly disappeared. We must engage and embrace the reality of climate change, and explore our struggle to maneuver and move through this climate emergency.
How do I activate a greater awareness about what concerns and challenges me in this climate-change world?
How do I actualize a greater appreciation for what I value in my life during this climate crisis?
In her book “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case For Hope And Healing”, Katharine Hayhoe wrote: “Our actions reinforce, deepen, and can even irrevocably alter our sense of who we are.”
So, how do I choose to act? Do I choose to stay in line and act in conformity and with complicity in a repressive culture that refuses to acknowledge and address this climate reality? Or do I choose to step out of bounds and challenge myself and others, to get out of my comfort zone and act out?
In this climate-change world, I always have options. I can act out of humility or arrogance. I can act out of love or hate. I can act out of curiosity or indifference. I can act out of truth or fantasy. It’s by acting out that I can best represent what I believe and what’s important to me. It’s by acting out that I can translate what I care about and what concerns me by the choices that I make each day.
Rollo May, in his book “The Courage To Create” says we have a choice. It’s a choice between inaction and apathy or engagement and participation. He wrote, “Shall we seize the courage necessary to preserve our sensitivity, awareness, and responsibility in the face of radical change? Shall we consciously participate, on however small the scale, in the forming of the new society?” He also wrote that courage is necessary for each of us to simply be and become. And it’s essential to assert yourself and make a commitment. When you do that, life becomes real.
With the radical and often rapid changes taking place around the world with these devastating and destructive climate events, how can I assert myself and make a commitment to become more aware and sensitive to the climate emergency which surrounds us? In what ways can I create a more resilient and meaningful life for myself and others?
Everyday, I act out by walking, not driving. I act out by carrying my groceries in a backpack, not a plastic bag. I act out by cutting the lawn with a push mower, not a gas or electric model. I act out by taking the bus or train for traveling, and not a plane.
I act out by writing articles and challenging my readers. I act out by contributing to various environmental and climate groups. I act out by demanding that our elected officials and community leaders do more.
By acting out, I refuse to live in fear.
By acting out, I refuse to disconnect and distance myself from others and nature.
By acting out, I refuse to give up on this world.
The author of this article, Tone Lanzillo, American writer and journalist, is a member of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth, a live-in volunteer at the Dorothy Day House, an active part of the Duluth/365 initiative, and is a key part of our team here at The Human Exploring Society.
Cover image by Ana Pessoa @anapessoagg / @Cop26Coalition