The Guardian, March 19, 2019
As the news of the Christchurch mosque massacre broke and I scoured the news, I came across a map showing that the Friday morning climate strike in Christchurch was close to the bloodbath. I felt terrible for the young people who showed up with hope and idealism, wondered whether the killer or killers chose this particular day to undermine the impact of this global climate action. It was a shocking pairing and also a perfectly coherent one, a clash of opposing ideologies. Behind the urgency of climate action is the understanding that everything is connected; behind white supremacy is an ideology of separation.
Of separation as the idea that human beings are divided into races, and those in one race have nothing in common with those in others. Of separation as the idea that though white people have overrun the globe, nonwhite people should stay out of Europe, North America, and now even New Zealand and Australia, two places where white settlers came relatively recently to already inhabited places – as a fantasy of resegregating the world. Of a lot of ideas and ideals of masculinity taken to a monstrous extreme – as ideas of disconnection, of taking matters into your own hands, of feeling no empathy and exhibiting no kindness, of asserting yourself as having the right to dominate others even unto death. And of course, of guns as the symbols and instruments of this self-definition.
Climate change is based on science. But if you delve into it deeply enough it is a kind of mysticism without mystification, a recognition of the beautiful interconnection of all life and the systems – weather, water, soil, seasons, ocean pH – on which that life depends. It acknowledges that everything is connected, that to dig up the carbon that plants so helpfully sequestered in the ground over eons and burn it so that returns to the sky as carbon dioxide changes the climate, and that this changed climate isn’t just warmer, it’s more chaotic, in ways that break these elegant patterns and relationships. That chaos is a kind of violence – the violence of hurricanes, wildfires, new temperature extremes, broken weather patterns, droughts, extinctions, famines. Which is why climate action has been and must be nonviolent. It is a movement to protect life.
That includes human life whether it’s the people of Central America impacted by failed harvests or of the Gulf Coast by hurricanes or the Arctic and their traditional relationships to seals, caribou and other species in crisis from climate change or the people of California, like the 82 killed in the inferno that in one day destroyed the town of Paradise last year. And it includes all life, because human beings are not separate from the fate of insects, of birds, of the life in the sea, of the forests that sequester carbon, of the diseases that will thrive on a warmer planet. I know a lot of climate activists, and I know what motivates them: it’s love. For the whole planet, for the most vulnerable people on it, for the idea of a livable future.
It’s no accident that climate denial is integral to rightwing thinking, that Republicans in the US have been freaking out about the Green New Deal, that maximizing fossil fuel development and profit seems to be a cornerstone of their libertarian-capitalist ideology. To acknowledge that everything is connected is to acknowledge that our actions have consequences and therefore responsibilities they are unwilling to shoulder. Also that the solutions to climate change require cooperative work at all levels from local energy transition to national policies that stop subsidizing fossil fuels to international agreements to set emissions goals.
In contrast, so much of rightwing ideology now is about a libertarian machismo in the “I can do anything I want” vein. It’s the pro-gun myth that we can each protect ourselves with a weapon when in reality we’re all safer with them out of our societies. It’s the idea that we can deregulate the hell out of everything and everyone can just look out for themselves whether it’s food safety or infrastructure safety or air and water quality. To kill someone you have to feel separate from them, and some violence – lynching, rape – ritualizes this separateness. Violence too comes out of a sort of entitlement: I have the right to hurt you, to determine your fate, to end your life. I am more important than you. It seems like, among other things a miserable mindset, one that aggrandizes your ego but withers your soul. ...
Read full article at The Guardian