Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The elephant in the corner

It's always been a bit weird preparing for a crisis that most people either have never even considered or think is hogwash (got into a conversation at the seed-n-feed yesterday with the clerk, who thought climate change was a joke), but over the last few months, as the news gets more and more uniformly awful, it's gotten much weirder. Almost every conversation I have with anyone but my husband or mother starts to feel like having a conversation about the weather while someone is unexpectedly bulldozing the neighbor's house. If I feel comfortable enough with a person, I might refer obliquely to the fact that things aren't, you know, going so well, are they?, but what I really want to do is run door to door through my neighborhood yelling "Hello! What is wrong with you people?! Wake UP while you still have a chance to do something to help yourselves!" And I don't see that being well-received.

What's really becoming uncomfortable to me is that I'm part of two local groups, one a sustainability discussion group looking to become something more, and the other an AP-natural parenting group, that both probably contain a high ration of people who would be receptive to some information...even painful information. And yet so far I've said nothing. I mean, generally these are people who know that things as they are are not things as they should be, and more to the point, are not sustainable. But I haven't piped up yet to say that not only are they not sustainable, they're going to stop "sustaining", so to speak, pretty much any minute now.

Part of it is misplaced mercy, certainly. I hesitate on the verge of posting a revealing blog link or comment to the listserv, thinking about the numbing fear I first felt when I was introduced to the ideas of peak oil, imminent climate change, and the myriad other "smaller" problems lurking just under the smooth surface of the world. Part of it, certainly, is just simply not knowing what to say. "The world is totally fucked up and we're all screwed!" is a pretty good summary, but not very useful or likely to be received well. But neither of those is a remotely good enough reason to deprive these people of a potential chance to try and shield themselves and their loved ones from the worst of what is to come, so in the end I guess it's cowardice as much as anything.

Same as everyone else, I still want to act like everything's normal. I still want to be known as friendly and easygoing, likeable, nice kitchen, makes good lentil soup. I don't want to be a Cassandra, or a leader. I like to provoke discussion without people realizing I started it. But I do think that, things being as they are, that M.O. is looking more and more like cowardice.

I think it's time to speak up...if only I could figure out how.

1 comment:

Chile said...

I have found that the more I write in the blog, the more I am willing to speak up in person. It's helped me "find my voice." I don't, however, dump the whole "we're screwed" on complete strangers (and work up to it slowly with people I know *grin*). Just a casual mention of climate change here, or switching to manual options instead of power there, can either start an interesting conversation or tell you the person is not at all receptive to this information.

Speak up! :)