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I’m pleased to welcome John Strohl to BoomerWarrior. In this post, John is responding to an article recently published on BoomerWarrior dealing with the emotional consequences of climate activism. (Rolly Montpellier ~ Editor, BoomerWarrior).

Hope is Back, boomer warrior

Avoid Climate Activist Meltdown

A number of people I know are scared, exhausted, depressed, anxious, over-worked, and vastly unappreciated. The people of whom I speak are uniformly eco-warriors, fighting to change the harmful paradigm that holds sway over most of the planet on a daily basis – the predatory capitalism and all that goes with it to make life miserable and unthinkable. Climate activism does have emotional consequences, and avoiding climate activism meltdown is essential to maintain one’s sanity and effectiveness.

One of these people (Climate Activist and creator of BoomerWarrior), in trying to deal with his difficulties, recently quoted from Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, the opening sentence of which states:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

I agree with this. More importantly, I believe in this. This is the key concept – belief – or faith. It’s what you are willing to stake, everything you are, know, and do. That is what you believe in. As the old saying goes, regarding your stated faith, someone can push a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls on a rope but “it’s not faith unless you’re in the wheelbarrow.” The wheelbarrow is climate change, and you have no option. You are “in the wheelbarrow” as is every other living thing on earth.

The problem is that we’re all in this wheelbarrow, and not only is faith scarce but denial is prevalent. Here are some other things, some corollary principles, that I believe can help avoid climate activist meltdown:

1. What’s supposed to happen does

What’s supposed to happen does. What’s not doesn’t. This is approximately equivalent to the Viking observation that our thread was woven into the tapestry of life long ago. Being afraid of death serves no purpose and makes no difference. We just need to “do” and “be” what we naturally are drawn to. Which goes hand in hand with “each and everyone of us is exactly where and who we are supposed to be at any given moment.”

2. We are all energetic beings having a physical experience

We are physical energetic beings. This in no way means that we are impervious to the pain and panic of our physical world and times. But it does mean that there is something more, something greater about us than anything this physical plane can mete out. Think of this as a stage of metamorphosis in our development.

3. You get what you focus on

Generally, you get what you focus on, what you believe in. This is a simple statement but it is quite literally at the root of everything we have and are. We create the world around us every moment of every day, as a matter of forging into physical space the thoughts and concerns of our deepest conviction, whether they be fear or fantasy. Whatever you “be” or you “are” is what you will get more of because you are attracting that energy to you by “being” that way.

4. We must know the enemy

We must know the enemy if we are to have a prayer of beating him or her. That said, we must not focus on any latent fear, uncertainty or doubt that may appear in relation to that knowledge. We must hold our desire for good at the center of our being, because that is the focus that will prevail in our forging of source energy (of which we too are made – the forging of desire and thoughts of our parents). Source energy is the universal “I am/We are” that unifies us all and is in everything. Do not think of electrical energy. Think of another plane of energy, the energy of being, the very energy of existence itself. Think of the Akashic Field. This is perhaps, our greatest test of faith.

5. Life on earth is facing a breakpoint change

I believe, that we in this physical plane, this particular place and time in the tapestry of life, are facing something that can best be described as a breakpoint change for life on Earth with special impact for humanity, and as such, because we affect everything, the planet. This is inviolate. Nothing we can say or do will change this. Such epochal change has happened at regular (and decreasing) intervals since life began. It is happening again now.

We happen to be the individuals of choice who are here, now, in the final days of old paradigm – “old viable” for the last epoch. We also have a unique opportunity. Never before in Earth’s history has any species been in a position to have this awareness, and to act upon it. Within that exists the opportunity to influence, either positively or negatively, what emerges as the “new viable”. Think about this. It has happened a number of times before (each epochal shift) and it is happening again… now! You are part of the opportunity. Act accordingly.

6. Emergence to affect social change

I believe in emergence. Margaret Wheatley has a great paper about using emergence to affect social change. According to Wheatley, this is where our real power lies. By becoming informed and impassioned, and talking to others, we form networks of common interest. As these networks develop, communities of practice emerge, which in turn seek out others. Systems of influence emerge, quite suddenly in some cases. As Margaret says “The third stage in emergence can never be predicted. It is the sudden appearance of a system that has real power and influence. Pioneering efforts that hovered at the periphery suddenly become the norm. The practices developed by courageous communities become the accepted standard.” Again, in her words,

Emergence is the fundamental scientific explanation for how local changes can materialize as global systems of influence. As a change theory, it offers methods and practices to accomplish the systems-wide changes that are so needed at this time. As leaders and communities of concerned people, we need to intentionally work with emergence so that our efforts will result in a truly hopeful future. No matter what other change strategies we have learned or favored, emergence is the only way change really happens on this planet. And that is very good news.

In a nutshell, if you get enough people, focused on the right things, working in cohesive morphic alignment, the crystallization of synergy occurs and you immediately get a result that is greater than the sum of the parts. This is emergence, this is an absolute reality, and this is our opportunity.

We get what we focus on, and I am focused on creative, abundant, ecologically functional emergence… but I do know where the problems are.

Image: Shutterstock

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  1. I gave my presentation on climate change to Later Life Learning in Kingston 2 weeks ago to a full house. The response I got was overwhelmingly flattering. The audience was shocked at the quality of photos from the Amazon to the Arctic, and the results of my 50 years of personal research on the subject.

    There is no point is me asking them for their money, or write letters to the government when you can’t keep them home from tropical resorts and cruise ships in the winter, or European holidays all summer. Their life is just to good to spoil with depressing news.

    I gave a lot of physics, facts and data to show where we are heading, and the cutest photos of my grandchildren who will be facing the consequences of our actions. By the way, they just got back from a Disney cruise.

    I left the audience with the conclusion that you won’t change your ways, but here is what you are going to do to your grandchildren. I left them with a guilt trip. This has to be step one or you never get to step 4. You loose your audience when you start with a battle plan when you haven’t yet won them over to your side yet.


    • Steven – Thanks for your comments.

      It sounds like you’re doing quite a few presentations. I was with Anita Payne at the Quebec march last Saturday. I’m pretty sure she was talking to me about your presentations in the Kingston area. Have I got this right?

      I agree with you that it is so frustrating to see and hear our boomer friends just “living the good life” on the back of the next generations. Where is there conscience and their sense of legacy for their grandchildren? In my research on boomers, I found that only about 15% have a keen social conscience. Another 30% or so have a good sense of awareness about what is going on. And the rest don’t give a s*^t.

  2. Had a long reply….lost the lot on a bad internet connection. Frustrated now… Sort of a bit like tackling global warming. Its all good until one hits the ‘road blocks.’

    John’s summing up is correct…” In a nutshell, if you get enough people, focused on the right things, working in cohesive morphic alignment, the crystallization of synergy occurs and you immediately get a result that is greater than the sum of the parts. This is emergence, this is an absolute reality, and this is our opportunity.”

    Individually, we hit road blocks, together we can change everything. As for the 55% who do not give a shit, they are followers and will fall into line behind the social hierarchy that firms our human society.

    A word about our Social Hierarchy… It is part of our psyche formed from our simian ancestors. Just watch a troop of macaques and it is a bit like watching yourself interact with family, friends, and strangers. The social interaction is embarrassingly ‘human.’ Watch a little longer, and you will notice the leaders and the policy makers. Watch for a really long time, and you will see each member is born into a social ‘pecking order’ that it cannot change except through social alliances with those in power.

    To use an overused quote…’the stoneage did not end for the lack of stones…’
    We are apes, with ape brains and ape thinking. Emergence might just take our brains a step further…it is certainly time!

  3. PS – Steven, I did visit your ‘presentation’ link, but it actually only took me to the reservation site for attending your presentation in Kingston, Ontario. I am presently in Thailand, soon to be in the UK and shortly in Spain and then briefly in Iceland, so unable to attend. Is your presentation posted anywhere on the Web?

    Yes, I am one of those guilty people who fly or take a ship somewhere, as you yourself did to visit that Amazon and the Arctic. There is no current answer to how we achieve travel without a huge Carbon footprint. Without travel, we would not know anything or who is doing what, where? In the emerging Industrial Revolution when the Victorian era power-mongers robbed poor nations of their resources most people were not aware of the absolute destruction(except the wealthy investors). Now that we all travel and communicate instantly, these moral and political injustices can be unmasked as the poisonous, polluting, practice’s of a corrupt society bent on development that trashes the planet.

    Somewhere in all of this we have to find middle-ground! There are no easy answers and finger-pointing is rather an unpleasant reminder that we have ape brains.

    I actually think that we have to move forward and if that means dragging our need for antiquated forms of travel with us for a while, so be it. Eventually, we will find better forms of travel.

    While I would be the last person on the planet to go on a Disney Cruise, one cannot deny that it opens up the world of a child. When I was very young, inner-city children barely saw life beyond brick walls and living conditions were polluted and often degraded and filthy. We have come an awful long way in the last 50 years, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater eh? Some nations still need to catch up with us. We are headed in the right direction. The current awareness of ‘warming’ creating melting Arctic environment, storms, droughts and so on, is a great thing. It was happening 50 years ago, but how many of us were aware of it then?

    Let’s not be too hard on ourselves, the ’emergence’ of butterflies is a slow arduously physical process, but look at the beauty of the creature when transformation is complete. We’ll get there eventually. One day, our grandkids will look back at their childhood and laugh at how antiquated and polluted the world was. They will inherit something better…all the generations before us were pessimistic too. I only have to read my own Grandfathers letters to know that. And no, his life was not better than mine, it was a very hard life in every respect.

    • Colette,

      Are you sure generations before us were “pessimistic” also? And I’m also not so sure that our grandchildren will inherit a better world. It will be different to be sure but better, I wonder.

      We are indeed more aware of everything that goes on globally in a matter of seconds. Theoretically, that gives us better information to react accordingly and to some degree, we are acting on large issues such as global warming – the scheduled Paris talks this coming December. It’s the quality of our decisions that is worrisome however – doing the right thing at the right time.

      • In our terms (we of the Boomer generation), no, perhaps we wouldn’t see our grandchildren’s future as better. But, then I tend to think of my world as better than my grandfather’s world. We have electronic, instant communication, television, material goods that are changed at whim and our working life is protected to a large degree by labour laws. These, and other things are all attributes to our life, that my grandfather didn’t have (and, yes they all cause pollution as most of what we do through work and leisure does as producers or consumers).

        My grandfather saw the future for me and my siblings as one fraught with moral decline, poverty and or debt as inflation took hold and instability in families as the divorce rates skyrocketed. He was right on all counts, but somehow we seem to combat all these outcomes to keep our lives ticking along.

        We can be romantic about my grandfathers day, and imagine things as more close to nature, but it would be innacurate…air pollution (at least in Europe and Britain) was much worse then. Industry was incredibly dirty and working life was very much more physical and often quite dangerous (no safety laws).

        The reality is that whatever we have, we see as ‘normal.’ In the Seventeenth century, Britain had a mini ice-age and ice fairs were held on the frozen river Thames (including ice fishing and barbecues). No one then worried about the possibility that the ice age might last forever or get worse (at least as we look at the historical data), but there may have been some people that worried for their grandchildren, should the weather continue to get colder. Would they survive?

        I do believe we have some real challenges to reduce pollution and poisons from changing our world into an environment that doesn’t support life, but I also believe we are up to the challenge…we have to be, just as we have overcome seemingly impossible problems in the past for our survival.

        • Colette – as you point out, “whatever we have, we see as ‘normal.’ The difference between previous generations and ours and that of our grandchildren is that the “normal” of the past never went so far as to threaten the survival of our species. The “new normal” goes way beyond any previous threat to our existence. The “new normal” is an existential one.

          • Agreed, but perception of what is already lost tends to be forgotten. It is the main reason that we (human race) never seem to learn not to repeat mistakes! ;-D

  4. Hello to Colette and Rolly,

    With respect to “the quality of our decisions” — our choices — I would like to recommend a little book by Peter Denton, a Canadian living in Winnipeg. The book is, Technology & Sustainability, Rocky Mountain Books, 2014; approx. 165 pp. ISBN 978-1-77160-039-2.

    Here’s a quote from p. 2:
    “Denial is catastrophic, but so is despair. This book comes out of the desire to motivate people toward hopeful, positive and practical actions — while seeing the world for what it is and ourselves for what we are able to do.”

    Another example: Chapter 6 begins, “System choices require intentional system ethics.”

    Basically, the book is saying that if we understand the ethics behind each technological choice we make, then we can take hold of technology and use it to create the better world we envision. I hope you give it a read.


    • Hello Peter and thank you for your response to the article.

      I like the quotes you have shared, particularly the one from page 2. Both denial and despair are catastrophic.

      On your other point,I suppose that what we are lacking at the corporate level is a clear understanding and acknowledgement of the “ethics behind each technological choice”. If petroleum companies considered the ethics of fracking or the ethics of expanding the Tar Sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet, we would not find ourselves fighting against every pipeline project or every new fracking project. Yes system ethics.


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