The most important thing for any one person to understand about climate change is that because we are all responsible for what is happening, there is no blame. You are not to blame for climate change. And neither is anyone else. Why is this so important?
The only way we are going to get through this crisis is if a critical mass of individuals takes personal responsibility for it. Looking to others for solutions is part of the problem. This is not a technology issue waiting for a technical fix, as many might have us think. It isn’t a political problem, either. You could argue it’s a moral crisis, and to their credit many of the world’s religions and religious leaders are approaching it that way. But more than anything, the climate crisis is a spiritual problem, and it will only be resolved when our worldview changes.
Fortunately, this is already happening with millions of people. But it has yet to crystallize at the level of society and culture. Changes like this happen one mind at a time — and then all at once. Because what we are witnessing is not some kind of lifestyle adjustment, but rather a sea change in human consciousness. And since it undermines the entrenched consumer culture, the evolution will not be televised!
The mistake being made is to assume the solution to the climate crisis is just to convince people to change their lifestyle, when in fact the solution is to get them to question their entire world view. Instead of trying to exploit people’s fears, what needs to happen is to compassionately acknowledge those fears and provide a means for working through and releasing them. The fears themselves are based on the very worldview that has given rise to the climate crisis, and that worldview is dependent on those fears. Thus, by changing people’s worldview, which is not as hard as it sounds, they will release their fears and have the courage to face this existential crisis, because their reformed worldview will demand it.
The only power fear has is in its unacknowledged state. As psychologists have appreciated for sometime now, our actions are controlled by our shadow selves. By acknowledging, confronting, and processing through our fears, which take the form of our shadow selves (e.g., consumer selves), we come out of the self-imposed darkness, into the light, and in the warm glow of that light, we human beings can do anything we put our minds to.
But paralyzed by fear, we will surely perish.
“The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And this, at the rare moments when [all] the stakes are on the table, may indeed prevent catastrophes…” (Hannah Arendt)
In the banality of climate change lies our salvation. We got ourselves into this mess together, because of a fatally flawed, shared worldview, and we will get ourselves through it to the other side together, by adopting an ecologically coherent worldview whose many seeds have already sprouted and are now taking root. By acknowledging our fears and grieving our lost connection with the natural world and our natural selves (‘human nature’), we will be able to release our fears and embrace something sacred, something life-affirming — a new worldview.
A life-affirming worldview of our own sacred human nature. Now THAT is something people can be motivated by.
(c) 2015 Zhiwa Woodbury: No reproduction of this and related pieces without express authorization from the author