Rebecca Solnit makes a simple point, although not a new idea, one that's universally and critically important for all of us regardless of our political leanings. "It’s not the belief of the majority or the work of elected officials that will change the world. It will be action, most likely the actions of a minority, as it usually has been. We can’t expect more of politicians than of the civil society that could push them. But we can expect more of ourselves."
Solnit's editorial dovetails perfectly with the premise of the Path to Positive, that the greatest obstacle to our nation leading on climate change isn’t a lack of technical, economic, or political solutions; it’s a lack of broad-based public support. We need to tell a new story about climate change that engages and inspires all Americans and connects with our most treasured values. And, as Solnit points out, we need to "get people in", on the hook, not only to vote at the end of the process, but to help transform the process. We need to dedicate ourselves to changing the status quo and motivating others in our spheres of influence to act. It is up to us. It is up to me and you.
Enough of this narrative of powerlessness. The actions of a minority can still make all the difference.
Lots of people eagerly study all the polls and reports on how many people believe that climate change is real and urgent. They seem to think there is some critical mass that, through the weight of belief alone, will get us where we want to go. As if when the numbers aren’t high enough, we can’t achieve anything. As if when the numbers are high enough, beautiful transformation will magically happen all by itself or people will vote for wonderful politicians who do the right thing.
But it’s not the belief of the majority or the work of elected officials that will change the world. It will be action, most likely the actions of a minority, as it usually has been. This week’s appalling Obama administration decision to let Shell commence drilling in the Arctic sea says less about that administration, which swings whichever way it’s pushed, than that we didn’t push harder than the oil industry. Which is hard work, but sometimes even a tiny group can do it.
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