A Climate Declaration

Building A Flawed Utopia

A Framework For US To Rescue Nature

Building A Flawed Utopia

Photo by Thomas Bennie on Unsplash

By now it’s probably obvious to most of my readers that, although I focus on the climate emergency, I’m also seeking to change society and culture as a whole for the better. And part of that is each of us trying to be better individuals.

In making society better and improving individuals, I’m focusing on myself — setting an example with my own attitudes and behavior. My efforts and abilities in this area are…uneven. I’m strongly convinced that I’m no better than average, but this gives my efforts extra value — not less. Because if I can do something, you most likely can do it as well. Probably better.

This isn’t self-flagellation. I think being average is pretty good. And what we do with the capabilities we have is the real point anyway. In fact, I have no illusions that I can save the world from this emergency. Or that I can build a better society (though the one we have now has set a pretty low bar).

But I’m convinced that someone can. People with abilities no better than mine. And especially people who have skills and abilities that I lack. In other words, I have no illusions about myself, but I have great hopes for US.

This hope isn’t based on naivety. I’m fully aware of the terrible things human beings have done. But I am equally aware of the great things our species has accomplished, too. We have potential — huge unrealized potential. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.

Learning From Mistakes

I have observed events in the world that inspire me. Strangely, most of them have ended badly. The Egyptian uprising that brought down a dictator, and then he was replaced by a new dictator. The Occupy movement that was crushed by police and left no visible improvement with the wealthy still dominating policy making. The end of the Soviet empire, with Putin now in control of Russia.

What happened next (or in some cases, a few years later) made these triumphs disappointing, even depressing. It sometimes looks like every effort to make things better is doomed to fail. Or even make things worse.

But I believe that’s just tunnel vision. It’s hard to see the bigger picture because distinct events tell their own stories. I believe in knowledge and kindness. Throughout history, these are the behaviors that made a difference.

Even though Egypt has a new dictator, and that removing Mubarak didn’t solve the problems, we still can — and should — draw inspirations from these events and the possibilities they revealed. During the uprising, religious Muslims and Coptic Christians protected each other from the violence of the regime. And they DID, after all, force a dictator who had ruled for 30 years to flee.

But they didn’t build something better. They were disorganized and not ready to replace Mubarak’s cruelty with a culture and system of kindness. This potential was within them, but they didn’t do the work. Perhaps they thought it would happen spontaneously once Mubarak was gone.

We Can Honor Those Efforts By Doing the Work NOW

The status quo everywhere is doomed because it is unable to change and deal realistically with the climate crisis that it has created. This is true even if there is no opposition. Droughts, floods, heatwaves, wildfires and shortages will bring down the power structure everywhere.

That’s simply the way it is.

But if we don’t want new dictators or equally bad outcomes, we must think things through NOW, in advance. We must thoughtfully control and direct events.

This doesn’t happen in part because we are unaware of our power, and believe we are alone. This also doesn’t happen because we don’t have a common vision— nothing to unite behind except removing the evil of climate abuse. That’s something, but not quite enough.

A Vague Vision and A Broad Strategy

People of good will everywhere have a common set of beliefs. At least a few common beliefs. Also, we have an understanding of possibilities, both good and bad. I believe we should build on what already exists.

Religion is supposed to be a fount of moral guidance. Sadly, all too often, religious institutions and religious people behave very badly and set terrible examples. But most religions within their holy books PREACH a common and often very good set of moral laws. Within most people, the golden rule lurks and, even if people don’t live by it, they recognize what is right and what is wrong. As a non-religious person, I find guidance in the golden rule.

Whatever people say, they cover up or rationalize their own behavior when it violates the golden rule. The “ethics” of capitalism is one such excuse. So is “the dictatorship of the proletariat” — which is in practice simply a dictatorship over the proletariat.

In any case, we can use love, and caring, and seeking wellbeing for ourselves and others as the core. This can replace the “balance sheet” ethics that has served us so poorly. Keeping score and accumulating wealth and power is a dead end. And what greater joy is there than making another person truly happy?

We will never all agree completely, but we can develop a vision and set of principles that appeals to most of us and that we can rally around. We can move ahead with a common vision, even if the details are not fully worked out. Details are NEVER fully worked out, but we continue to live and function anyhow!

I envision a vast decentralized and uncontrolled movement, powered by a common ethos. Towards that end, I have encourage everyone to develop and enact their own strategies. I do not know what exactly will work, but I believe SOMETHING will work. That’s why we need many people to think, to use their imagination, to try things

And that’s why I consider my own efforts simply part of the mix. One or more of them may succeed. Or they may all fail but inspire efforts by others and those others may succeed. I don’t care how it happens or who ultimately comes up with what works and creates this great awakening. I just want it to happen, and to do my part to ensure that it does.

My efforts have included silent climate vigils (which didn’t feel right and I have — for the time being — abandoned); producing and distributing climate samizdat, small print publications about the climate and related issues, encouraging action; promotion of A Climate Declaration, a generalized but hopefully inspiring statement of purpose and direction; and, of course, writing and publishing regular articles on Medium and the website aclimatedeclaration.com.

Some of these efforts will be continued and built on, and others abandoned — or simply paused. Maybe other people will take up some of these ideas and execute them better than I can. However it happens, we need a flurry and then an avalanche of activity.

I believe that saving the planet from climate collapse and building a humane culture and society are inseparable. Admittedly, stopping climate collapse alone would be a worthwhile accomplishment, but I believe we can and must do even better than that.


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