Those of us who care about life and justice are often, understandably, disheartened by all indicators of the health of the planet continuing to worsen. Equally understandably, we tend to grasp at those rare signs that we may succeed in turning things around: a big turnout to a protest, hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition of national significance, or a year in which carbon emissions don’t increase over the year before.
We need fuel to keep us going as activists ― reason to believe our work can make a difference. We need to nourish our resistance by celebrating achievements. We know this is a long-term struggle and that we won’t achieve ecological sustainability overnight, that we must set strategic goals and allow ourselves to feel accomplishment when we complete tasks that contribute to meeting those goals.
But it is dangerous to conflate a possible support base, willing to make symbolic statements, with an actual effective movement. It is dangerous to confuse things-getting-slightly-less-bad with actual victory. We need to keep grounding ourselves in a big picture view of reality and of our strategy, tactics, and goals, and regularly ensure that our daily actions are consistent with a carefully thought out plan. When we reach milestones in enactment of our strategy, we should review them with pride and satisfaction, and build on them to further goals. But we shouldn’t seize on any bit of vaguely good news to make ourselves feel better in a bout of self-delusion.
We recommend reading the new post “Deep Green Resistance Seattle: The Climate Movement is Failing. Here are Two Models to Turn the Tide.” It opens with the Lauren Hill quote “Fantasy is what people want but reality is what they need,” then examines the lulling effects of a one-year leveling off of carbon emissions and of the excitement generated by the #ShellNO campaign. It puts these in context of what needs to happen, and introduces two model strategies ― CELDF as an aboveground approach to direct democracy in the US, and MEND as a belowground campaign of strategic sabotage against the oil industry in the Niger Delta.
And if you haven’t yet, read the strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare. If you’ve been uncertain as to how your activism fits into the big picture, these two links are a great starting point for you to contemplate how you can be most effective.