As a reader of this blog, you may not be at all surprised to hear that climate despair is prompting some people to give up on life. You may even have experienced such despair at times; I know I have. After reading Jem Bendell’s article linked above, I decided to start a new section of my sidebar: Practical Tips and Emotional Support for the Possibility of Societal Collapse. I hope you will find these resources helpful.
In his article, Prof. Bendell quotes George Monbiot (the climate activist and journalist who prompted the emergence of the Riot for Austerity movement, which in turn led me to write my book):
“…British writer and climate activist George Monbiot sees succumbing to despair as a moral failure. ‘By throwing up our hands about the calamities that could one day afflict us, we disguise and distance them, converting concrete choices into indecipherable dread,’ Monbiot wrote in April. ‘We might relieve ourselves of moral agency by claiming that it’s already too late to act, but in doing so we condemn others to destitution or death.'”
The phrase “moral failure” might sound like a harsh condemnation to some. After all, who among us hasn’t felt this kind of despair at one time or another? As I see it, the despair itself is not a moral failure; it is what we do with it. There is an invitation to process our feelings and then reach out and care for others as best we can. Community care is an essential piece which is largely missing from our frayed social fabric. Grassroots movements such as Kristin Schell – The Turquoise Table and home vegetable gardening/food-sharing have a crucial role to play in rebuilding trust and nurturance into our society. Online communities, too (such as Riot for Austerity and Journey to Zero-Waste) are essential in that they provide emotional support to people who have chosen a path of awareness, resource-reverence, and care of the earth. All of us, no matter how shattered and overwhelmed we may feel sometimes, are powerful beings. We can extend person-to-person, everyday compassion. We can look out for our brothers and sisters, comfort them in their despair, acknowledge the validity of their feelings even while we are doing the same for ourselves.
More from Jem Bendell (this is from his Deep Adaptation website, which I have also permalinked in my sidebar): “Everyone engaging with our climate predicament will have their own emotional journey. None will be easy. The question of how to engage people is a huge one for me. It is why I have focused on how people who are awake to our predicament can help each other. My main suggestion is that we engage and talk with others who do not think that we are confused, depressed, or irresponsible to have concluded that climate change now threatens societal collapse. In those connections and conversations, we find solidarity, joy and pathways for how to be and what to do in future. If you do not yet have that in your life, or want more, then I recommend reaching out through one of the networks I list here.”