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Videos of SAL/UER Climate Week events

Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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The more I work on the climate emergency, the more I see how important it is to be hopeful. 

We’re in a bad situation with climate change, and the news keeps getting worse as we fail to address the causes. We are facing many challenges, and we have to work on many fronts at the same time. We must take immediate actions to ensure our long-term survival as a species. There is strong opposition to meaningful action. We need a lot more people with us. So many challenges, not including our distresses!

It’s a bad situation, and it is happening at a time of multiple crises! Fortunately, this is also a recipe for countless opportunities to pull people together and make change happen. People are looking for answers; they are ready to consider new ideas. We want our minds engaged in this challenge and thinking of possibilities. To do that well, we want to be hopeful. Despair and hopelessness confuse us and cloud our thinking. We can decide to take action whether we feel hopeful or not—and it makes sense to do that—but taking action while being hopeful lets us access our full intelligence and helps other people see possibilities they didn’t see before.

I think our hope will be one of our best tools in the coming years. The situation with the climate will get worse and worse, at least for a while. Let’s not get bogged down in restimulation. It’s time to reclaim our hope. 

I can tell [see] it makes sense to be hopeful. Reality is benign. Life is a precious gift, and our planet is filled with millions of variations. Humans are inherently loving, cooperative, intelligent, zestful. Billions of acts of kindness, caring, and support happen every day. 

I think being hopeful is inherent in us. Maybe it’s part of what Harvey Jackins called “zest.” I know I was more hopeful when I was young. They had to work hard to smash my hope. I want it back! 

The climate emergency is a problem we created. So it must be a problem we can solve. We even know what to do to solve it. We really do, and it is within our reach. We’re just a bit stuck in carrying out [putting into effect] our good thinking about it. 

I like this quote from Tim Jackins from the article “Discouragement Is Always Old” in the July 2007 Present Time: “What do we need to be hopeful? I think there are only two things, and we have both of them. One is we need to be alive, and the second is we need to be thinking. If we’ve got these two things, then we have possibilities. It’s wonderful to have gigantic resources and large numbers of allies. It’s great. But what we actually need in any situation is our minds thinking about what’s going on [happening]. Then we can figure out what’s possible and take the steps that are within our reach, and build off of those, on and on. There are always possibilities.” 


I want us to be able to reclaim our hope and stay hopeful through hard times. Here’s what I think we can do to make that happen: 

1) Work early on the roots of our feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. Tim has described ways to do this. 

2) Put attention on hopeful developments in the present. There are always hopeful things happening, but we might have to go looking for them. We can use them to contradict and discharge feelings of hopelessness in our sessions. 

3) Pull attention away from any addiction to bad news and negativity. Some of us are drawn to read the same bad news over and over, not for information but out of a distress recording we need to discharge.

We don’t want to pretend that there aren’t hard things happening or claim that we’re certain to solve the crisis. There are many hard things going on, and we don’t actually know how things will turn out [what will happen]. But that’s not a reason for despair; that’s a reason to stay thinking and connected to others. 

When we hear bad news and get restimulated, we can discharge, adjust our strategies to fit the new situation, take whatever action makes sense, and then head back for a hopeful perspective and go about [proceed with] our day.

It always makes sense to claim a perspective of hopefulness. We may need to discharge a lot to do this, and that’s okay. (You didn’t want those distresses anyway.) Decide to always return to being hopeful—don’t stay in despair or discouragement. Come back to hope. If you get stuck, ask for help. We’ll need to help each other with this, so look for help when you get stuck. Learn to recognize hopeless feelings as distress, not the natural state of the world. 

Holding out hope for the future is a key tool for RC climate activists. Most people need to see some hope for the future if they are to take action. Having a hopeful tone, injecting a hopeful perspective, can bring people toward us and create possibilities to move people forward. 


We might need to make a list of reasons to be hopeful to help us discharge on point number two above. This is part of my current list as someone living in the United States:

  • The U.S. election! We did it! We worked hard to oust the climate-denying administration.
  • President Biden is taking many more actions on the climate emergency than I had expected! These are important developments for the United States and the world—no fossil fuel subsidies, big investments in clean energy and green jobs, no more drilling for oil on federal lands, the recognition that “we have a methane problem,” appointing a Native American woman as Secretary of the Interior, addressing racial justice, and more.
  • The climate movement has never been stronger, and the large numbers of younger people coming into the movement bring new strength.
  • There are good advances in renewable energy: General Motors is going electric by 2035, there are floating solar panels, the cost of renewables keeps going down, and there is new battery technology.
  • The majority of people know climate change is a problem and want to allocate resources to it. Two thirds of the people in a recent survey called it a climate “emergency.”
  • New opportunities for climate funding exist because of the COVID-19 economic stimulus. We are fighting for a green recovery.

What do you need to discharge to make hope yours? What hopeful events are happening in the world around you? 

With love and hope,

Diane Shisk

International Commonality Reference 
Person for Care of the Environment

Shoreline, Washington, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders in care of the environment

(Present Time 203, April 2021)

Last modified: 2021-04-29 20:38:20+00