, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
One thing in the way of effective action on our #climate crisis (and our toxics crisis, our biodiversity crisis, our plastics in the ocean crisis, not to mention our violence, war, poverty, racism, & sexism crises) is a terrible misunderstanding of who/what we are.
Many people speak about this as a spiritual/moral crisis and I agree. But, the misunderstanding I want to talk about is at once simpler and more profound.
(Note - when I say 'we' I mean those of us acculturated into the western industrial growth mindset, which in evolutionarily relevant timescales has only been around for a fleeting instant. Humans haven't always thought this way, and not all humans alive today think this way.)
The misunderstanding is that we are objects, bounded by our skin. That's wrong, on both counts.
We are fluid flows, not solid objects, taking in material and energy, transforming it and releasing it. Buckminster Fuller said, "I am a verb."
Wisdom traditions all teach this, but I learned it most deeply studying biochemistry and later #systemsthinking and system dynamics.
The second misunderstanding is connected to the first. Of course we don't end at our skin if we constantly take in and transform water, gases, complex molecules, minerals. You literally are (in part) the apple you ate yesterday.
When a photon of light from our distant sun hits our eyes, it interacts (joins in with) the structure of molecules in our eyes. Where is the boundary between us and the sun?
Sometimes when I teach, I ask people under which condition could they live longer: (1) if an accident chopped off their little toe or (2) if an impermeable membrane cut off their connection to the atmosphere, i.e. they couldn't breathe?
Think about it, and tell me why your little toe is 'part of you' and the atmosphere is 'something outside of you.'
As my friend and teacher Donella Meadows wrote, we have lines in minds that don't exist in the world. donellameadows.org/archives/lines…
That's why narrow technocratic solutions to climate change fall short for me. (Don't get me wrong, I employ as many of them as possible in my own life and have spent my career advocating for them as hard as I can.) But...
...if we 'solve' the climate crisis, without understanding our own nature, I fear we will find ourselves simply deep in our next crisis.
Climate change could be a teacher, if we open ourselves to it, a teacher insisting that we see ourselves and the complexity of which we are a part more clearly.
And, here's the hope I hold out: in that new (old for indigenous peoples) understanding we might just find the peace, sense of connection, clarity of purpose, and call to adventure, the search for which is driving our carbon-fueled binge of consumption in the first place.
That wouldn't undo all the harm and loss of climate change, the loss of species and beauty, the harm to the people who did the least to contribute to it in the first place, but at least, out of the loss and waste could maybe, possibly, come wisdom.
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