Climate Activism: Find Your Calling

climate
Illustration by Brenna Quinlan

Hands up if you’re feeling a bit helpless in the face of climate change? It seems our governments are doing little to help, our pleas for change are falling on deaf ears; and big business and greed seem to have more say than good people caring for the Earth. Don’t be disheartened though. Activism comes in many forms and there are many ways we can help heal the planet.

Focusing on change at the global level can feel disempowering and may lead to inaction and despair. While for some people, focusing on the global is their calling, we need to find how best we can contribute in a way that calls to our own passions and interests, whether that be reducing plastic, planting trees, growing food, caring for people or creating community.

To find your calling, it helps to connect with nature. When we feel a love for our earth, our soil, our rivers, lakes, animals and people, then we can listen to our hearts and find the place we can do the most good. If we can see the planet and everything on it as deserving of respect – recognising the landscape, plants, animals, insects and other people in their own right and not just for their use to us – then we can ask the questions: How can I serve you? How can I serve the soil? How can I serve the water? How can I be part of creating a healthy and thriving ecosystem?

Rebuild Our Connection To Nature

When we re-establish an intimate relationship with nature we can experience that we are an interconnected part of the natural ecosystem. Then we start to care for the Earth and all its beings, because we feel a deep love for them all and we don’t want to see something we love damaged or destroyed.

As Bill Mollison puts it, ‘I think harmony with nature is possible only if we abandon the idea of superiority over the natural world. We are not superior to other life-forms; all living things are an expression of Life. If we could see that truth, we would see that everything we do to other life-forms, we also do to ourselves. A culture which understands this does not, without absolute necessity, destroy any living thing.’

Nature, Connection And The Beginning Of Permaculture

Bill Mollison, one of the co-originators of permaculture, reflects in Introduction to Permaculture (Tagari Publications 1991) how his deep connection with nature was what enabled him to see the impact that society was having on the place he loved. This, in turn, led to the creation of the permaculture concept.

‘I grew up in a small village in Tasmania. Everything we needed we made. We made our own boots, our own metalworks; we caught fish, grew food, made bread. Until I was about 28, I lived in a sort of dream. I spent most of my time in the bush or on the sea. I fished, I hunted for my living.

‘It wasn’t until the 1950s that I noticed large parts of the system in which I lived were disappearing. Fish stocks started to collapse. Seaweed around the shorelines had thinned out. Large patches of the forest began to die. I hadn’t realised until then that I had become very fond of them, that I was in love with my country.

‘I began to protest against the political systems I saw were killing us and the world around us. But I soon decided that it was no good persisting with opposition that in the end achieved nothing. I withdrew from society for two years; I did not want to oppose anything ever again and waste my time. I wanted to come back only with something very positive, something that would allow us all to exist without the wholesale collapse of biological systems.’

This is exactly what he did, when he and David Holmgren created the permaculture concept. Once we have established that connection with nature, we too can find our calling.

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Photo by Robyn Rosenfeldt

Empowerment

When we focus on what we are passionate about, or what we feel moved by, then we are motivated to make change in that area and we feel empowered when we have success. We might be inspired to reduce our electricity usage, create less waste, start up a repair cafe in our local community, write letters to our local member, grow our own food or change our superannuation fund. Once we have made positive change in one area of our lives then we can turn our attention to the next.

When we understand that personal healing, social healing, ecological healing and climate healing are all part of the same healing, then the scope of our activism broadens and we allow ourselves to listen to what the world is telling us about what is needed. If we all focus on the positive things we can do here and now and act with love for ourselves, our communities and the planet, then we will be moving in the right direction.

All Activism Is Relevant

According to Charles Eisenstein, author and gift economy advocate, we need to move away from fundamentalism, which is the idea that the only relevant action you can take right now is to put 100 percent of your efforts into cutting greenhouse gas emissions as swiftly as possible by whatever means necessary. This fundamentalist belief states that your other interests – whether it’s housing the homeless, caring for the autistic, rescuing animals or visiting your grandmother – are irrelevant. This belief does not recognise the intimate interconnectedness of all things.

As Einsenstein says, ‘It’s not about ignoring what the science is telling us. We can trust that as we listen, our care will call us to the right action. Even if our action doesn’t obviously bring down the CO2 numbers, even if it doesn’t obviously scale up or go viral. We will no longer operate from self-preservation and survival anxiety, because we will understand that our wellbeing is inseparable from that of everyone and everything around us.

‘We need to understand that human degradation and ecological degradation are part of the same fabric and that neither will change without the other changing. We need to recognise that healing on any level contributes to healing on every level. You can understand that it is okay to devote yourself to what stirs your compassion the most; confident that what you are doing is still relevant in the face of our growing problems.’

Once we realise we are part of nature and that we as a species are part of the earth, and we are all interconnected, then we can see that whenever we are taking small everyday actions towards healing, whether it be the earth or the animals or the people, then we are engaged in climate change activism. Because healing the planet involves healing our Earth, our soil, our water, our animals, our community and each other.

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