A few days later I was lying face-down in bed weeping, because Netanyahu was voted in in Israel. To win, he’s made alliances with the far-right, a once-fringe, anti-democratic, racist movement.
We’ve all experienced this, haven’t we? Our nails are bitten to the quick during every US election; and the spectre of Trump winning in 2024 haunts us all. Or at least half of us.
It feels like the whole world is split down the middle. Every election is so close, it could go either way. In many cases it doesn’t seem to matter what the incumbent actually does during their time in office, people are so polarized. Trump’s ratings never dipped below 35% no matter what he did or said; rip children from the arms of migrant parents, praise Putin and fascists, advise your people to inject disinfectants during a pandemic—nothing changed the minds of his supporters (although I have to point out that both Johnson and Truss’ supporters deserted them en masse for massively less serious offences, even though it detracts from the point I am trying to make).
My point? It’s really hard to feel that democracy is working. Trust in politicians is at an all-time low, and all of us can point to a myriad of instances where they’ve blatantly lied to us—both the right and the left (Tony Blair insisted that Iraq had chemical weapons/Obama abandoned Gaddafi during the Arab Spring, even though he had been a loyal ally with the US in the war on terror). Even those of us who continue to search for the truth as best we can, know that we can’t escape our bubble. A few corporations decide what we should see and what we shouldn’t, eliminating anything that might challenge our pre-existing beliefs.
We can believe in ourselves. We can believe philosophers that have basically been asking the same questions for centuries. Why are we here and what constitutes a good life? Humans that really think about these things are characterized by the desire “to live by the law of morals”.
Obviously not everyone defines a moral life the same way; we are all trying to define to ourselves what this means. But can anyone logically exclude the climate crisis from this definition?
Every time I watch footage of, say, Pakistan (though there are lots of examples) I am painfully conscious that their suffering is because of my decadent lifestyle. How can I drive everywhere, while they lose everything they have—when I KNOW that my driving is a tiny part of their pain? How does that differ from the slave-master/serf-gentry divisions of the past? We are incomparably richer than most of the world, and we are causing the climate crisis by our self-indulgent lifestyles. And most of us are resisting change mightily, just like the masters and gentry did before us.
Is there a better way for us to live a moral life, than by viewing our actions through the climate action lens? When we look back in 20 years time, what other route will enable us to feel we have led conscientious lives, whatever the actual outcome?
Yes, systematic change needs to happen and we should all be voting and—if we are political—attending rallies and signing petitions blah blah. But we cannot know who will be elected next, even if we vote faithfully every time; we cannot control the results. Socrates believed that all change comes from within. That we can control.
As for me, I’m trying to settle in here in England but change is hard and I sometimes don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I joined XR here, but we don’t see eye-to-eye on the tomato soup incident, when they doused poor old Van Gogh. They seem to think anything that grabs attention to their cause is a good thing. I don’t think random acts of lunacy are the type of attention that attracts support. Now, bumping off a billionaire…
Tip: Don’t shop hungry!
When you’re hungry, everything looks tempting, so you buy more. Weirdly, research shows that you’re much more likely to buy non-food items as well when you’re hungry. So eat before you go online to buy that new keyboard you need, otherwise you might end up with a whole new computer. Approximately 1/3 of the world's food is wasted every year (about 1.3 billion tons).