On anger and action
Today we got angry. We got angry, frustrated and upset. There were no arguments or fireworks or anything, but for a normally unwaveringly optimisitic bunch our emotions were for once considerably less than positive.
Even as we have been fighting to protect seven acres of stunningly beautiful, biodiverse forest to the north of our office, an area of forest not five minutes to the east of us was recently cleared to make way for new buildings. Then today, the bulldozers arrived on the southern boundary to open up a new road into the forest. This feeling of being closed in on all sides and continously escalating pressures is one that many all over the world will sadly be familiar with right now, and perhaps this wider context was also fuelling our frustration..
At the risk of massively over-simplifying, the world should be getting better right?! While there is still a long way to go, particularly with regards to equitable distribution, we have undeniably made huge strides in science, healthcare, technology, education and human rights over the last century. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Tracker, the world achieved the highest ever enrolment in tertiary education in the last year measured (2014, 34.5%). A better educated, more prosperous society should be capable of building a better world surely? So why does it feel like we’re going backwards at the moment?
A global pandemic, another economic recession, abhorrent acts of racism, isolationism, terrorism, what I will diplomatically call loss of trust in leadership (bleach injection anyone?) and of course an impending climate and biodiversity disaster. The scale and cumulative impact of these challenges are enough to make anyone despair. Given that you are reading this blog, the chances are you are feeling at least a bit of this frustration so, for all our sakes, here are three reasons why it is OK to feel angry right now:
It is very justified - It doesn’t even warrant saying that it is OK to feel angry that in 2020 we are still facing widespread racism. It is OK to be angry at government inertia on climate change and biodiversity loss, the biggest challenge we will likely face in our lifetime. And it is OK for us to be angry at the loss of forest and its wildlife, carbon storage and water catchment protection.
We are human – Therefore we feel emotions. In many cases, these negative emotions are fundamentally coming from a place of love; love for the environment and for our fellow human beings. And this love is essential for creating a better world so we need to hold onto it.
Ambivalence never changed anything – Great disasters and successes trigger paradigm shifts, not business as usual. We need to care to make change.
So it is OK to be angry but then we need to do something about it. And think big. A quote in a book this week that really resonated with us was “mass extinction won’t be solved by filling up the bird feeder”. The scale of the issues faced require each of us to step up our response. Taking to social media (or this blog) to raise awareness is important but usually more action is needed to address the root causes of these issues. In our case, this means thinking bigger about how we work with local landowners. If money is the currency of interest, then we need to think what financial conservation models might work for the region. We need to channel our anger into energy for engaging constructively with landowners to co-design a solution.
What does it mean for you? How can you turn your anger into bigger change? Feel free to reach out and let us know, we’re always happy to chat and support one another in fighting on.