Quaker-ex and Sustainability

I am a lapsed quaker, lapsed meditator, lapsed marathon runner, but I still think and feel like one. Quakerism flourished in England at an apocalyptic time in late 1700s. We are face-planted now in the mother of all apocalypses: the Climate Emergency. I muse here what quakerism as a way of life and movement could contribute to transition through social disruption created by energy scarcity, social injustice and above all, climate emergency.


Facing the Apocalypse with Equanimity

I revised the title and description of my blog today to reflect where my weltanschaung is at these days. And because I am astounded that 12 000 people have viewed this blog for some reasons that may have generated some value in their lives.

Last time I wrote was 2016, and much has changed. I now see the climate crisis as unsolvable, overwhelmingly due to human nature, but still worth striving to mitigate. The scene at the bridge in Saving Private Ryan haunts me; Hanks and crew know they are about to be overrun by German tanks, but they stand their ground, mine the bridge, and stop the invaders at the cost of their lives. Except Private Ryan. He survives to tell their story. That would be us, some of us will survive the meltdown of industrial civilization now in process. I don't count myself among the survivors, but my daughters may well be. They were raised as Quakers and if you know what to  look for, you can see the imprint on their lives.

The Climate Mobilization Plan is a powerful call to action, grass roots based, strategic, clear-eyed. I'm enrolled as a 'mobilizer, willing to learn, act and fund the movement.

This is the week before the global day of action: Rise Up for Climate on Sept 8th. Find a location near you and show up. Rising UP UK has organized themselves to become a force to  be reckoned with by TPTB. This schematic should spark your interest. (George Fox, founder of Quakerism, was such a strategist, and Margaret Fell was his long-time lieutenant, as they sought to build a regenerative culture in the midst of the English Civil War.

 I quote from a 2012 The Localization Reader: Adapting to the Coming Downshift: "few are optimistic enough to suggest that such efforts will allow modern society to return to a preindustrial climate state. In fact, a realistic dose of pessimism has some groups promoting efforts to cope with, rather than just mitigate, climatic change. In either case, be it ruthless mitigation or revolutionary adaptation, high-consuming societies will have to operate on dramatically less material and energy in the foreseeable future. For that, we surmise, they will localize, ready or not.

More true today than five  years ago. Arctic longterm ice 80% gone, West Antarctica Ice Sheet irreversibly destabilized, coral reefs everywhere in death spiral, droughts, fires and floods on all continents. Still adding CO2 to the atmosphere at rate of 3 - 4 ppm per year. Already GAST 1.4dC above the cheater baseline of 1850, a hundred years later than true onset of industrial revolution, and not including .7C cushion from global dimming due to aerosol pollution. Mostly all from burning fossil fuels.

I have found that I must summon up the courage to face these facts and trends head on. It is devastating to my sense of the future, the future I presumed to be my birthright and that of my children. I have scoured the internet, added numerous unread volumes to my library, bookmarked hundreds of youtubes, grasping for the liferaft of hope.

Hope comes in four flavours, says Suzanne Moser after Stoknes, the Norwegian psychologist and economist. Stoknes (2015) offers a typology of different "varieties of hope," which rests on the two major factors described in this review: the degree of agency or active engagement and the inner or outer focus underlying our motivations. He distinguishes four types of hope: (1) passive optimism or
“Pollyanna Hope,” in which a person believes in a positive (e.g., safe, bright, thriving) future that
will simply come about on its own, or by someone else's doing (e.g., god, nature, or some
technological fix); (2) active optimism or “Heroic Hope,” in which the person has a similarly
positive outlook but understands he or she needs to actively help bring it about; (3) passive
skepticism or “Stoic Hope,” in which a person is not at all convinced that the future will be
bright and easy, but believes not much needs to be done because it will be bearable; and, finally,
(4) active skepticism or “Grounded Hope,” in which a person is realistically informed about the
state of affairs, and thus skeptical of a positive outlook, but chooses to do whatever she or he can
to bring about the best possible outcome, because standing by is an unacceptable and unethical.

I am therefore an 'active skeptic'.


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