2022-07-28

Recently, George Monbiot wrote a scathing post about the failure of the climate movement to be clear about what is actually needed for change to happen:

“The problem was never that system change is too big an ask or takes too long. The problem is that incrementalism is too small an ask. Not just too small to drive transformation; not just too small to stop the tidal wave of revolutionary change rolling in from the opposite direction; but also too small to break the conspiracy of silence. Only a demand for system change, directly confronting the power driving us to planetary destruction, has the potential to match the scale of the problem and to inspire and mobilise the millions of people required to generate effective action.”

I’ve existed in a lot of spaces where those in power always talk about incremental change as the way to see progressive changes take place. Yet, those changes never truly materialize and the people pushing for them usually burn out. Monbiot is 100% correct; systemic overhaul is the most effective way forward, it always has been, and it is a threat to those benefitting from the status quo. Which is why they resist it.

2022-07-12

James Dyke on how we need to stop thinking there is still time to limit warming to 1.5°:

“The safest, sanest thing to do right now is to stop using fossil fuels as quickly as we can. This will limit warming to as near to 1.5°C as possible. At the same time we need massive investment in adaptation to protect those most vulnerable.”

2022-05-06

Karen Hao from MIT on three ways a user can protest the data that big tech is collecting:

  1. Data strikes, inspired by the idea of labour strikes, which involve withholding or deleting your data so a tech firm cannot use it—leaving a platform or installing privacy tools, for instance.
  2. Data poisoning, which involves contributing meaningless or harmful data.
  3. Conscious data contribution, which involves giving meaningful data to the competitor of a platform you want to protest, such as by uploading your Facebook photos to Tumblr instead.

I’ve been drawn to the idea of data gaps, where I ensure I’m not using one service for all my needs, in hopes of creating large gaps in a company’s data collection attempts. I really like these other ideas though and I would love to see more large-scale, coordinated efforts.

2022-05-03

Oliver Burkeman on how medieval farmers would have understood time management:

“Workers got up with the sun and slept at dusk, the lengths of their days varying with the seasons. There was no need to think of time as something abstract and separate from life: you milked the cows when they needed milking and harvested the crops when it was harvest time.”

This idea of just doing things when they need doing is interesting. I’m trying to find more ways of connecting into natural rhythms and paying attention to what’s going on around me. Maybe I need to liberate my concept of time.

2022-01-04

Some thoughts on guilt and broken systems.

Something I’ve noticed over the last two years (gestures in global pandemic) is how guilty so many people feel all the time. Guilt that they’re not doing enough, guilt that they’re stretched too thin to perform well, guilt that they missed that deadline, guilt that they’re ruining their kids by giving them extra screen-time, guilt that they’re getting a booster shot when other countries haven’t even had access to first doses, guilt that they saw their extended family over the holidays even when public health advised them not to, etc…

Non. Stop. Guilt.

To them I say, you should stop.

You should stop because guilt is an unproductive feeling that an already broken system wants you to feel in order to avoid structural repair. As long as you feel guilty, the system never has to change. Its brokenness becomes your burden to carry.

Overworked employees, underfunded healthcare or education settings, unpaid and undervalued childcare, our most vulnerable populations abandoned by the system and the burden of their care falling on already burned out PCWs. These are the people (most often women) the system unloads its burden on.

Unhealthy, abusive systems thrive on guilt.

Guilt is the domain of governments who strip essential services bare in the name of fiscal responsibility. It’s the way of employers who cut costs by rewarding overwork rather than hiring more people to carry the load. It’s the weekly reminder from a church that tells you’re not giving enough, doing enough, or trying enough. It’s plastic straws as opposed to dealing with fossil fuels.

These broken systems want you to feel guilty because it keeps you looking at yourself.

If you’re looking for a more productive feeling, my suggestion is anger. Anger - directed at the broken system, on behalf of those who have been exploited and oppressed by it - is how we change things.

The system, and those who benefit from it, fears your anger because it gets you pointing fingers. And I know that many of us were raised in settings that taught us not to point fingers in blame. But have you ever noticed how often that is used to avoid critique? Also how those same settings had no problem with you blaming yourself?

The system fears your anger because it knows that if enough people get angry at its brokenness or abuses we might actually hold them accountable.

Imagine what we might build in its place.

Thanks for reading to the end.

2018-03-16

Yesterday I watched my wife grieve.

She found out that an older man that she knew from her work had passed away and throughout the demands of motherhood and daily life she processed her loss quietly.

I’ve never been good with knowing how to act around grief - my own or other people’s. It always feels like I’m watching the situation from a distance, as though I should be doing or saying certain things that normal people would. I think some might see me as callous or unaffected; but the truth is I just feel things later, on my own terms. I remember a while back when a puppy that my family had had for a relatively brief amount of time was hit by a car and died. My sister phoned to tell me while I was leading a youth retreat. A day later, in the privacy afforded by a morning shower, I cried over the absurdity of it all. Such a brief and pointless life, barely leaving an impact. Yet I cried anyway.

A few years ago I found out that my grandmother had suddenly died while I was at a friend’s wedding. Driving between the ceremony and the reception I had about 20 minutes or so to process it. Then I had to go DJ a big party party and celebrate the happiest day of my friend’s lives with them. It was a mixed bag.

It’s interesting to me the way that in other times and places people wore their grief. They put on certain clothes, shaved or covered their heads, set up shrines, sang ballads and told stories in public spheres. Maybe that’s because they knew better than we do that death is an inescapable part of life. You don’t get one without the other.

This awareness doesn’t minimize pain and loss, it normalizes it for everyone.