2007 - 2022

Where I find joy in a global crisis

I knew I would love it. I’m surprised it took me until I was 45 to have a proper go. I’ve often looked out to sea from the beach, and thought “one day”. Well that day came on a Friday in August. 

Aberdeen is renowned for a lot of things but it’s not often known for surfing. But apparently in a recent review, our beach was voted one of the best places to surf in Europe.

But sea conditions last summer had been flat. So when I saw Campbell from Scot Surf begin advertising lessons again, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. 

The sky was overcast when joining half a dozen newbie surfers at the Scot Surf trailer. It certainly wasn’t a warm day, so while putting on my damp 5 millimetre wetsuit, I wondered if it was going to be thick enough to keep me warm for 2 and a half hours. I don’t do cold water very well and I know how cold Scottish seas can be, even in summer. But after an intro lesson on the beach, we walked into the sea with our boards and the first thing I noticed was the water was not cold, in fact I couldn’t actually feel any coldness, was it warm?

For the next 2 and half hours I had a time of my life, learning about the surf, the waves, the board, the rails and then choosing and catching ‘your’ wave, first while laid flat, but then eventually and astonishingly I stood up. Even if it was for 2 or 3 seconds, it felt like 20. Campbell promised he would have me standing, but he didn’t tell me about his magic boards…that’s surely the only explanation.

The time out there was enhanced when we were joined by a fair few seabirds bobbing along the surf and occasionally diving for what I assume was small fish. ‘Wonderful’, I thought, ‘what a day this is turning out to be’……..well, for me that is.

While back at the trailer, feeling exhausted but elated, another surfer appeared and handed Campbell an ominous looking package.  Cupped in his two hands was a ball of black and white feathers with a head, occasionally moving but stooped to one side.

“I found it in the surf upside down, But it’s still alive, I just couldn’t leave it there. Is there anything you can do”? The surfer asked Campbell.

Campbell explained earlier how he’s become the de-facto beach lifeguard, due to no funding for a permanent one. In the eyes of this surfer, it appears this informal role extends to seabirds as well.

I watched Campbell gently take the bird into his hands, the same species I saw bobbing around only a few minutes before. While gently wrapping it in a towel and placing in a cardboard box, he turned to me and said “it doesn’t look good… but I’ll try and call a place”. 

The first place he called, there was no answer. So, I searched on my mobile and called an animal rescue centre in Ellon.

I described the bird and its condition to a person on the phone, they said “We’ve had a lot of those this summer. Can you bring it in? The van’s already out on a call”.

Campbell was teaching a paddle board lesson in 20 minutes, so I agreed to take it in.

I had not eaten since breakfast and must have easily burnt a 1000 calories surfing. I thought it wouldn’t be wise to drive tired while on an empty stomach.  So, I ordered some food from the neighbouring vegan food trailer called Roots. But, 10 minutes later, while just finishing off some delicious loaded fries, Campbell came up and said, “you won’t be needing to go to the rescue centre, the bird’s a goner……”

I called the centre and told them what happened. They told me how it was an all too common occurrence this summer. I found out the bird was a juvenile guillemot. The breeding season had been good, that is until the chicks enter the water, the same warm water I enjoyed just a few hours earlier. I learnt the birds feed on sand eels, but these had moved to colder, deeper water that they prefer. But the fluffy juveniles are too buoyant and not strong enough to dive deep, so this year they were left to forage for scraps in the shallows.

In my line of work and activism I’m accustomed to hearing (sometimes seeing) the impacts of the climate crisis, to a point that one becomes numb. But this experience had a profound affect on me. I thought afterwards, while I was out having the time of my life, I was oblivious to the crisis those wee furry things were experiencing. They were starving to death. All the while, families walked along the esplanade and the oil supply ships sailed back and forth, all oblivious to what was unfolding in the water just metres away.

Image: S Herrett – ‘Washed Up’ Aberdeen beach August 2021

I’ve told this story a few times to friends, and it feels like I suck out every ounce of joy. I feel bad about this. It was suggested I lighten it with some black humour, and say at the end, “well at least one good thing happened, I got stood up on my board”.

I really don’t want to be the doom merchant, but at the same time I feel I just need to keep telling how it is.

And what I understand, ‘how it is’. Is that we’re caught up in a toxic system that dominates our society. A system responsible for staggering levels of inequality, that includes ripping people from their land, extracting its wealth, while leaving the places we share with other beings poisoned. A capitalist system enshrined by patriarchy and racism, dependent on the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. While providing some people abundant cheap energy, it pollutes the atmosphere with a cocktail of gases, heating the earth and the seas to now unbearable levels for human life and clearly non-human life.

Many people in the world are already getting fucked. Sometimes I feel we will all be fucked and there is no real joy to be found.  

But where is the joy in these dark times? All I can offer is from my own experience. I find the potential for joy is actually all around us. I find it best when people come together to learn and share about what’s really going on in the world, and then decide collectively to do something about it. I’ve found it out on the streets chatting and encouraging people to get involved in organising around social or climate justice. In 2019 found it in Extinction Rebellion, both in meetings on Tuesday nights, or disrupting the daily grind and having awkward but important conversations with strangers about how to unfuck the system. I find joy working with folk in Torry where I now live and recently helped organise a people’s assembly, so ordinary people can decide for themselves how to protect St Fitticks Park from corporate greed. Joy for me is in experiencing the warm glow of collective power that attempts to address injustices, climate breakdown or the collapse of biodiversity. 

Image S Herrett – Torry People’s Assembly, August 2021

I don’t believe we can wait for governments, institutions or corporations to act.  They are all fellow passengers aboard the plane of modernity, which left the earth a few centuries ago and is now empty. A handful of passengers have been in the cockpit, ensuring them and their friends experience the luxury of 1st class. Some are just getting by in the standard seats, but for many they are hanging out the back of the plane, sometimes by threads, and sometimes they snap. This plane needs to land back on earth from which many of us have  become separated for far too long. Those at the front want to stay in control, but they really don’t have a clue how to land us safely.

We can choose to sit back in our seats, ‘don’t look up’ and allow ourselves to be distracted and pretend and hope ‘everything is going to be alright’. 

But as I found, even in moments of joyful distraction, the harshness of the reality we all face, will keep appearing. This year it was birds washing up on the beach, next year it may be something else.

So I believe there is no alternative, for those in ‘standard’, to join together, pull in the threads from the back and take responsibility to land everyone back safely. We can’t rely on those at the front, to pilot us back down. It will be scary, but I also believe there will be many moments of collective joy in the weeks, months and years to come.

I wrote and performed this story at a spoken word night in Aberdeen called the ‘Future IS Not F*cked’, some weeks before seeing Don’t Look Up. It’s a satirical film depicting the American political class and mainstream media’s denialism after the discovery of a  ‘planet killing’ comet that’s found to be hurtling towards the earth. As everyone probably knows by now, the film is an allegory on the current climate and biodiversity crisis, asking the questions: How many warning signs do governments, global media and people (particularly the white middle class) need? When will the response begin that matches the scale and severity of the current and real ‘planet killing’ crisis?

The Aberdeen night was all about the Just Transition away from oil and gas in the north east. Anyone was invited to respond to the provocation: ‘What does it mean to let go of the world of oil and all it represents?’. My story was in two halves. The first half depicts the ‘warning sign’. There was no need for a sophisticated machine (like the large telescope in the film) to detect it, all that was needed was my own eyes and sense of touch. The second half is the story I tell myself to make sense of the experience. It also addresses a point made by a critic of the film, in which they highlight the depiction of civil society’s response to the comet as predominantly passive or violent,  and relying on individual ‘heroes’ or billionaire businessmen to try and save the day, missing the need for deep transformation through grassroots collective action.

Image: S Herrett. Surfing at Aberdeen Beach – Surfer unknown (definitely not me!)

Image S Herrett. Coming and goings of supply vessels at Aberdeen

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Comments (27)

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  1. Colin Kirkwood says:

    Lovely piece, Scott Herrett.

    1. Scott Herrett says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Colin

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Perhaps most of those superhero movies have the effect of making people without superpowers, superweapons or billions feel powerless (that is, the vast majority of people on the planet)? But by combining to form a collective intelligence, that majority may yet conceive of, produce and impose solutions to even the greatest problems of the day. There is one kind of superhero, the giant, which is sometimes used to represent such collectives, famously depicted on the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, featured throughout socialist folk tales and even makes the odd appearance in the Marvel and DC universes (it may come as a surprise to viewers of the insipid Hulk movies that the original comicbook Hulk was a staunch anti-militarist peacenik, and unlike Mr Hyde formed megadeath scientist Dr Bruce Banner’s better side). At the very least, citizens can contribute in various ways to weather-watching and nature-monitoring collective endeavours. Nice contrast in the article. Yes, we can throw off our learnt helplessness by gradually making differences over time and building capacities for change; but we may not have much time.
    https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/

    1. Scott Herrett says:

      Interesting thoughts SleepingDog. I originally wrote the piece for myself, as mentioned to process and make sense of the experience. But in sharing it here I wanted to offer the idea that we can go beyond individual reactions/responses to witnessing or hearing these experiences. Which I often find are bound up with a sense of shame or helplessness/resignation.

      If certain conditions are in place, then yes ‘collective intelligence’ or the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, then time and again I’ve seen that can add up a lot more than the sum of the parts.

      
Thomas Hobbes has appeared in various books I’m currently reading, I wasn’t aware of his influence the Marvel and DC universes! I will check that out, thanks.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Scott Herrett, I would make a distinction between collective intelligence and the more debatable ‘wisdom of crowds’. Collective intelligence just means that individuals act as nodes in an inter-connective mass that has exponential processing power (with biases, exploits and failures inherent). For example, many people exposed to the same advertising campaign can reinforce untruths amongst their neighbours. The idea that you can fool all the people all of the time, and some of the people all of the time, remains to be proved. Hobbes’ ideas have not aged well (political philosophers of that era tended to make large assumptions on ‘natural’ or prehistoric peoples) but even the original Incredible Hulk comics (produced under, I believe, the USAmerican Comics Code Authority censorship/propaganda model) may have contained more ancient predecessors than its creators imagined. Although given the Hulk and Golem story, perhaps this is evident. But yes, Gestalt is unavoidable once you start world-building in a connective fictional universe.

        1. @ SleepingDog says:

          The frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan is an allegorical depiction of the proper matter, form, and power of the civil and ecclesiastical commonwealth of which the book treats.

          The figure in the top half represents the monarch, who in Hobbes’ republic is the personification of the commonwealth. This figure rises above the landscape, dwarfing the city below him, and is formed from hundreds of smaller figures, who all look up at the giant they have made.

          Beneath him, in the bottom half of the frontispiece, are smaller pictures that correspond with the sword and crosier that the king wields, which represent the secular power of his right hand and the ecclesiastical power of his left.

          Hobbes worked with the Parisian artist, Abraham Bosse, to create the allegorical image of the book’s central thesis that the republic is best governed, and the commonwealth best served, when ‘a multitude of men are made one person, when they are by one man, or one person, represented’. As such, the frontispiece allegorises the notion of sovereign authority as a conglomerate human figure, creating a powerful image of the body politic and indicating that the citizens who compose the sovereign’s body also empower his rule.

          To suggest that the frontispiece depicts some sort of ‘superhero’ is classic anachronism.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, what’s with the mutant monickers, ye aff yer meds or summin’? No, I was not saying that the frontispiece of Leviathan depicts a superhero, that is a really perverse mischaracterisation of what I wrote, which was quite the contrary, that a giant sometimes represents a multitude. You can find examples in Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain, edited by Michael Rosen, including a story by Keir Hardie. These tend to be on the dull but worthy side.
            https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/08/a-giant-called-labour-a-villain-called-tory-keir-hardies-forgotten-fairytales-republished
            And there is a similar giant in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the great plough-horse Boxer. Other giants are foes, representing Monopoly and so forth. I can’t help it if you are unfamiliar with the early Incredible Hulk comics, but take it from me the Hulk is generally depicted there as a peace-seeker who is only enraged by militarism, bullying, social injustice and sophists.

            Just to clarify, I am aware that Thomas Hobbes, writing at a time of political upheaval, at times did not express a preference between a single ruler and a larger ruling body, but his main contention was that there was some kind of social contract that everyone in society was at least notionally party to or at least inheriting of. It has been a while since I read Leviathan, though.

            Also, although the word might be recent, you can find superheroes throughout world literature back to earliest found works, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has been adapted into a series of graphic novels Gilgamesh II by Jim Starlin, whose hero bears a striking resemblance to the Hulk: not surprising, since Starlin also worked on Hulk stories. The archetypal superhero is often a demigod, like Heracles, who I imagine was one inspiration for Hulk.

          2. @ SleepingDog says:

            I agree. Leviathan was a pioneering work in social contract theory (the idea that sovereignty lies originally with the individual and that individuals alienate their sovereignty in the form or ‘person’ of a body politic in return for ‘rights’ or ‘liberties’ in order to be able to live collectively in peace and security (that is, in a civilised state of law rather than in a brutish state of nature). Hence the allegorical depiction of the body politic or republic as a conglomeration of individuals, or the solidarity of a multitude, in the ‘person’ of a monarch.

            This is quite different in kind from the allegorical depictions or narratives of heroic power found in other poetry, such as those of Gilgamesh, Job, Gulliver, Animal Farm, The Eternals, or The Buried Giant. There’s nothing heroic about the body politic; according to Hobbes and social contract theorists generally, it’s an entitely pragmatic arrangement.

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg’s Mutant Monicker, you appear to be getting muddled. I am neither claiming that Gilgamesh is an allegory of a body politic (although founding myths are interesting, and you can see why Romulus is preferable to Mary Beard’s description of bands of criminals and runaways), nor that heroes and superheroes exist in real life (I am, as you say, talking about poetic descriptions; and I don’t subscribe to the Great Man — Occasionally Woman — View of History). If only actions not persons are heroic, why not collective actions (in revolutions, city defences, aiding refugees, contending with pandemics and climate emergencies and Ayn-Rand-inspired technology-corporate moguls in cahoots with the military-industrial-securocrat-entertainment-religious complex)?

            Just because a giant may be used to represent a multitude, it does not have to represent everyone in a polity or a class. Wikipedia describes George Orwell’s character Boxer from Animal Farm thus:
            “Boxer is described as a hardworking, but naive and ignorant cart horse in George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm. He is shown as the farm’s most dedicated and loyal labourer. Boxer serves as an allegory for the Russian working-class who helped to oust Tsar Nicholas and establish the Soviet Union, but were eventually betrayed by the Bolsheviks.”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_(Animal_Farm)
            I think Orwell’s fable is a bit more widely applicable (and therefore more useful) than a historical allegory, but the interpretation is valid, and thus Boxer does not (for example) represent working-class Tsarists or Bolsheviks. Then, of course, Boxer has a real-life counterpart in the Stakhanovite movement. And if Alexey Stakhanov’s heroic feats of coal extraction never actually took place, I am sure it would have been convenient for the Soviet authorities to invent and honour them, a bit like how virtues are invented and honoured in today’s British imperial honours and awards lists.

            But anyway, I haven’t seen Don’t Look Up, so I have no idea what fables or allegories or deep-state/media analyses it employs.

          4. @ SleepingDog says:

            Sorry! I thought you were saying that ‘There is one kind of superhero, the giant, which is sometimes used to represent such collectives, famously depicted on the frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan…’ That would have been an anachronism had you in fact said that. For the frontispiece of Leviathan famously depicts no such kind of superhero; it allegorically depicts what Hobbes proposed to be (as he himself put it) ‘the proper matter, form, and power of the civil and ecclesiastical commonwealth’. And given the quote from the Book of Job that appears above the depiction, I’m not even sure that it allegorically depicts that proper matter, form, and power of the commonwealth as a giant.

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, I would only note that the English Revolution (during which Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan was written) is also a candidate for inspiring George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The pigs would be those Cromwellians who in some respects hijacked and purged the successful anti-Royalist forces (of Levellers and later some Parliamentarians etc) to recreate theocratic dynastic succession and a new royal family when Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector for Life, nominated his son as heir and successor.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Protector#Cromwellian_Commonwealth
            Were the animals’ barn meetings Workers’ Soviets or Putney Debates? Either, both, none: the fable still stands as a pattern of political corruption and renewal that is both recognisable elsewhere and improvable upon. Neither Cromwell’s nor Hobbes’ use of the term ‘commonwealth’ is particularly convincing to me. And if we really had a ‘commonwealth’ today, we would have had #RoyalReparations by now.

          6. @ SleepingDog says:

            Both Cromwell and Hobbes used it in the ‘contract theory’ sense it had come to be used in the 17th century; namely, that of ‘a state in which supreme power or “sovereignty” emanates from the people who are subject to that power’ (as allegorically depicted in the frontispiece of Leviathan).

            The concept of ‘commonwealth’ (not to be confused with ‘commonweal’, a completely different word, which more closely translates Rousseau’s ‘volonté générale’) has an interesting history. It was coined originally in the 15th century to translate into English the Latin ‘res publica’ (‘matters’ of ‘public’ or common concern‘), which was itself coined by Cicero to translate the Greek term ‘politeia’ (‘citizenship’). By the mid-16th century, it had come to mean any ‘community’ or body of people joined by some common interest; by the beginning of the 17th century, this extension had narrowed to cover only the special community of the nation-state.

            Neither Cromwell’s nor Hobbes’ use of the term ‘commonwealth’ is particularly convincing to me either. But that’s hardly surprising since I’m not a 17th-century chiel; I’m constructed by a much different language game.

  3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    “I’ve told this story a few times to friends, and it feels like I suck out every ounce of joy. I feel bad about this. ” – there is no reason at all to feel guilt Mr Herrett. We are able to take the good and the bad and to hear happiness and sadness in the same story. And, you have told an uplifting and exhortative story with sincerity.

    1. Scott Herrett says:

      Thank you for your reassuring and kind words Alasdair. I wasn’t very clear in describing my feelings. It’s more towards sadness and frustration. Whether it’s talking about melting ice, people being violently evicted from land or dead birds washing up on Aberdeen beech, I don’t feel guilty about bringing attention to the outcomes of this profit based system we find ourselves in. I guess it’s part of the consciousness raising that many of us have to go through in order to properly respond and live in this rapidly changing world.

  4. Mons Meg says:

    ‘I don’t believe we can wait for governments, institutions or corporations to act.’

    But do you think we have time to wait for people to ‘come together to learn and share about what’s really going on in the world, and then decide collectively to do something about it’?

    What was the outcome of the Torry People’s Assembly in August? What difference has Extinction Rebellion made with its Tuesday night meetings and its ‘awkward but important conversations with strangers about how to unfuck the system’, other than providing its activists with ‘the warm glow of collective power that attempts to address injustices, climate breakdown or the collapse of biodiversity’?

    I’m sure such get-togethers are very enjoyable for the people involved, but what change do they actually effect when it comes to the substantial matter of injustice, climate breakdown, and the collapse of biodiversity?

    1. Bill says:

      Interestingly, the government seems to be keen to and such get togethers. The new draconian legislation and the nonsense about ‘woke’ would indicate to me that there is a frisson of tension in the government about the possibility that such endeavours could lead to people wanting an end to the current incompetence and corruption.

      Bill

      1. @ Bill says:

        The status quo has nothing to fear from such get-togethers; thus, our governments can safely let them alone. In fact, their very ineffectuality allows our governments to make pious and patronising noises about ‘community empowerment’ and ‘participative this-and-that’, without actually ceding any of their power to the communities they govern. It’s only when situations materialise in which governments can no longer govern that communities are both enabled and compelled to step up and fill the vacuums that such power-collapses leave. You need chaos to give birth to a dancing star.

        1. Bill says:

          I am reminded that many years ago, it was decided by the ‘powers that be’, the free pregnancy tests would not be offered in the NHS. The women of Britain decided otherwise and the tests were provided. I do not recall any great chaos at the time, but determination and consistent campaigning changed the day. Perhaps the current incompetence, corruption and criminality does not stir nor stiffen the sinews to the same extent.

          Bill

          1. @ Bill says:

            It was the commercial rise of Clearblue and other more streamlined and aggressively marketed self-testing products after 1985 that brought free pregnancy testing from the margins of medicine and into the social mainstream, creating a new normal for a younger generation of women. Pregnancy testing has always been freely available on the N.H.S. since the late 1940s, but, until the advent of self-testing technology, that testing required the input of scarce laboratory resources, the availability of which was ‘rationed’ to exclude testing for non-medical purposes. Thankfully (and in part due to successful campaigning by feminist groups) the medicalisation of health is a thing of the past.

            But I thought we were talking of the effectiveness of local activism in the context of the sort of global crises that are at the root of Scott’s existential anxiety rather than in the context of solving limited local problems like obtaining a pregnancy test kit in Scotland…

    2. Scott Herrett says:

      Thanks for your response and challenging questions Mons Meg. You are getting at points that I’m sure many people in forms of activism and indeed science/politics think a lot about. I’m often questioning where my time and energy is best placed.

      I could write a whole thesis on the question of urgency and where to direct ones time.

      I believe a basic answer is that time is up on our present political/economic system. That’s not to say I completely disregard engaging in parts of it. The point I am attempting to make in the piece is that it’s up to the collective ‘we’ to experiment in new ways of organising, governing and meeting people’s needs, that will be resilient while our current and dominant model of ‘civilisation’ breaks down alongside parts if the biosphere. I believe this work is about reconnecting with each other and with the earth and all it’s constraints, but in doing so I believe this can be truly joyful.

      I’m committed to the long haul of landing the plane, and I suspect this work will stretch beyond my own lifetime.

      1. @ Scott Herrett says:

        Yep, the game’s up; capitalism is increasingly unable to contain the contradictions, incoherences, and oppositions its globalisation has generated, and it will be down to us to band together in our communities and networks to produce our means of life in the vacuum it leaves when it finally crashes and burns.

        These communities and networks won’t save capitalism; hence their ineffectually when it comes to the substantial matter of injustice, climate breakdown, and the collapse of biodiversity. But it doesn’t do any harm to build resilience by cultivating those communities and networks in preparation for the crash, wherein lies the true value of more or less autonomous initiatives like Torry People’s Assembly, Extinction Rebellion, and AANES in northeastern Syria.

    3. Adrian Roper says:

      Hi Mons Meg
      I love your probing questions.
      I tend to agree that XR activities and People’s Assemblies have limited prospects of achieving global system change but they are at least in alignment with such change.
      My darker thoughts point me towards a programme of citizen militias, a la Rojava rather than Montana – but I suspect, short of a major breakdown in government and protracted civil war, the SAS would round us up smartly.
      What do you propose?
      Cheers

      1. @ Adrian Roper says:

        See above. My proposal would be for the patient and ongoing non-partisan work of community development, of the sort in which I spend nearly all of my working life among people for whom capitalism had already failed and who were already experiencing crises.

        1. Adrian Roper says:

          Thanks again Mons.
          A couple of further questions.
          1. Regarding “patient” community development work, isn’t there a danger that time is running out? Don’t we need some “impatient” activism as well?
          2. Regarding “community development”, is this lone activism, or are you part of an organisation or movement with scalable methods (and if so, what is it)? I might want to join.

          Cheers

          1. @ Adrian Roper says:

            Time is indeed running out. Which is why my original intervention was to wonder whether Scott thought we had time to wait for people to ‘come together to learn and share about what’s really going on in the world, and then decide collectively to do something about it’. No amount of activism, whether ‘patient’ of ‘impatient’, is going to save capitalism. The task is to develop communities that will have the resilience to survive its crash.

            I don’t know whether you’d describe my former employment as ‘lone activism’ or not. I was employed by many and various local organisations and movements during the course of my career, who retained me to help them develop the ‘social capital’ or ‘power’ or ‘agency’ or ‘resilience’ they required to directly and independently bring about the changes they wanted to bring about in their communities.

  5. @ Scott Herrett says:

    ‘I don’t believe we can wait for governments, institutions or corporations to act.’

    But do you think we can wait for people to ‘come together to learn and share about what’s really going on in the world, and then decide collectively to do something about it’?

    What was the outcome of the Torry People’s Assembly in August? What difference has Extinction Rebellion made with its Tuesday night meetings and its ‘awkward but important conversations with strangers about how to unf*ck the system’, other than providing its activists with ‘the warm glow of collective power that attempts to address injustices, climate breakdown or the collapse of biodiversity’?

    I’m sure such get-togethers are very enjoyable for the people involved, but what change do they actually effect when it comes to the substantial matter of injustice, climate breakdown, and the collapse of biodiversity?

  6. John Monro says:

    Thank you. Sharing you thoughts and concerns is cathartic in itself., and affirming for the many others you might not know are out there, feeling just the same as you. Reality is truly beginning to intrude. Did you see the video of George Monbiot’s emotional breakdown on a morning TV news programme recently? For someone who truly understands what we are doing, there is a tipping point, and a sudden enlightenment of the horror of it all. Are we really ruining our planet, our own home, so that we can no longer live in comfort on it? When even a modestly intelligent and concerned human being such as oneself is forced to say “Yes, we are”, then no emotional reaction is overdone. Despair, terror, deep depression, remorse, worries for you family and your society, they are all there. I really don’t know about the rest of humanity, but it seems we are all so shy of expressing anything that could seem to be depressing or pessimistic, perhaps even more so the bigger and the more intractable the problem, that only occasionally will these emotions ever be stated or apparent. “Don’t look up” was panned by quite a few critics, but anyone I’ve spoken to, and as I’m 75, they’re mostly old folk like myself, found the film both blackly funny, all too real and deeply disturbing. (And also bringing a deep disdain for film critics)! I would add that I don’t think that the film missed the chance to stress the need for deep transformation through collective action, I’d have thought that was exactly the point the film was trying to make – we cannot rely on leadership, it’s not there. .

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