Monday, April 6, 2015

On Helping People Get Outraged

John Oliver's show about surveillance is a must see:

Amazing, right!?!

But what sticks with me most, as a teacher and an environmentalist, is this line:  "Is this a conversation we [American citizens] have a capacity to have?"


When intelligent people speak passionately about what they think is most important for the world to understand, they often go over people's heads or provide too many details that nobody really cares about, and then their message is lost.  Are you paying attention, Naomi Klein??*   Maybe Oliver could interview her next!

If we can't find a way to get people to understand the significance of what's happening to our ecosystems right now, we're screwed.  Maybe it would help to remind everyone that, if the atmosphere is filled with more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and supporting factory farms, then they'll be too worried about finding drinking water and a home at a higher elevation to be able to have sex.

Except, that happened with phthalates years ago, and nobody cared.  There was a huge Globe & Mail spread on how phthalates and plastics affect male fertility and even penis size, and I thought at the time, "Now things will change."  But it didn't.  At all.  Because it's not happening to people in a way they can see, and it's not happening to them RIGHT FREAKING NOW.

Blarg.  How do we get the message across in a way that people will get pissed off and actually change the way they live and the types of politicians and platforms they'll support??

Help me, John Oliver. You're our only hope.


*Yes, I know I could use a lesson on this too, but I'm a C list blogger, so I'll just putter away here how I like, thank-you very much.


The Mound of Sound said...

I'm convinced we've been so overtaken by so many events, a number of them potentially existential, that we'll never have the essential 'conversations.' If you haven't seen it, you should check out The Guardian's photo-essay from the weekend. It dealt with Overpopulation, Over-consumption and Overshoot. It depicts how far beyond survivability we have already gone and reveals the enormous public uprising that would be needed to get back to a point of safety. Entirely omitted from this was any reference to climate change, sea level rise, the freshwater crisis and so on.

Marie, the sine qua non has to be the abandonment of neoliberal, free market capitalism - i.e. market fundamentalism - and the adoption of steady state economics and governance. Colonizing Mars will all of humanity might be a less daunting challenge at this point.

Our unwillingness to accept change is like a gangrenous patient who refuses surgery even after being told the inevitable outcome. This isn't new and we're not unique. There is a rich history of civilizations that realized their practices were lethal yet would not change, triggering collapse. Most of those collapses resulted from one or two issues on a regional scale. Today we've a basket just full of existential issues and they're mainly on a global scale.

Anonymous said...

This is not something new.

The Mound of Sound said...

Marie, here's a little more:

Marie Snyder said...

I actually saw Chapman at Mariposa Folk Festival in '88 - I wonder if this was filmed there! It's not something new, but this could be the very last revolution we ever fight.

Marie Snyder said...

I'm with you, and I read Collapse on your advice. I'm holding out a glimmer of hope that this time we're smart enough to see what we're doing to ourselves before it's too late - if that marker hasn't already happened.

Marie Snyder said...

Our issues are on a global scale, but we've also got the means to communicate globally. It might not be because the message isn't being heard that we ignore it. But that might be one way that, if it changed, we might make a dent in the system. Some countries have changed how they operate economically and environmentally, so it is possible.

I've read that post before, and both readings have made me want to squirrel away up north in an off-grid earthship. But I sometimes feel the same way about my city. It's not ideal, and I could just go somewhere better. But I could also choose to stay and try to make it better. Somehow, that's preferable. Maybe it's crazy to try, but it's what I do.