Sunday, February 16, 2020
Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher & writer of the greatest clarity. I’d like to repeat a question she poses in her book, “Great Tide Rising”.
When your house is on fire, what should you do?
Read each slowly and Close your eyes:
Imagine that your children are in this house, and not only your children but about 1.9 billion other children.
Imagine that this house is beautiful beyond imagining, that you have been happy in this house, a sheltering nourishing place that provides water and warmth and food.
Imagine, in fact, that this house is the only possible source of everything your life and happiness depend on.
Imagine that there is still a chance to save the house or at least part of it.
Imagine it’s a narrow, perilously narrow, chance--and that it depends on throwing everything the world has at the fire.
For me, this exercise in imagination sends me, at first, into a gloomy, hopeless place as I imagine the raging fire taking my house. But when I imagine that my house is not yet lost, of course I jump into action with every drop of energy I possess. I think of the largest quantity of water and turn on my garden hose, drag it to the flames and begin dousing. I yell for my neighbors to come help, and they do, of course they do.
What causes me or my neighbors to act? Our house is precious. A thing of value to me/us. The source of much of my comfort, refuge, heat, protection…
My grandchildren's artwork hanging on my refrigerator will be lost. All my family photos and movies. Jewelry, books, writings. Nearly everything that I have kept over my lifetime will burn in this fire. My pets and sleeping family. And so I am motivated to put it out, even at risk to my own life.
What do I care about enough that I will act! Put my life energy into it?
I have an idea:
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report tells us that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% per year, beginning now.
So let’s start a 7.6% Club in every neighborhood. The simple goal is for each household to get creative and reduce our carbon footprint by 7.6% this year, in 2020. And, by the way, we also need to reduce our waste output as well. Perhaps we can do both at the same time. Collectively, we will make a difference!
Then I sit back and sigh. Seems like too much effort, starting a new organization, pulling people together, so much of my time would need to be devoted to this. And so I think I’ll just move on with my day. Pour another cup of morning coffee.
WTF - after imagining 1.9 billion children burning in my house I can just go on with my daily life?
This tells me a lot about my values. What I hold dear, really. I don’t like what I see? I am a coward. Will I lay down and watch the house burn to the ground? Writhing in the agony of cowardice and loss?
I’m going to leave this question in my mind as I move on. Let it kindle a creative flame in me and see what happens.