You Can’t Scare People Into Going Green

Occupy Wall Street

A man paints a sign at Occupy Wall Street: “Give The Earth A Vote.”

How is truly sustainable global change created? 

I used to think that people would adopt a greener lifestyle if they truly knew the staggering and heart-breaking damage caused to our beautiful planet and the well being of the human race by many of our modern habits.  Perhaps, they would even persuade politicians and corporations to follow suite.  I used to feel that people were just unaware of the effects of their day to day habits (after all, we aren’t taught these things in school or via popular media) and if they were aware, they would change.

While I do think awareness is part of the key (it certainly changed me), I sure as heck know that the energy of fear, anger, begging, pleading and the doom and gloom scenarios of the climate change (and other environmental disaster) is not the answer to inspire most people into effective action.

A few days ago, I came across an article that shone to me like a beacon of light. It was like a missing ingredient in a grander dish where all the other flavors can finally begin to pull together into a successful, positive creation.   In this article, the author articulates the need to educate and inspire people, while giving them manageable, life-enhancing and personally rewarding actions that create positive change.  Please enjoy Creating A Culture Of Hope–Not Fear–Around Sustainability.

In closing, here’s a little food for thought.  Sometimes, when we are confronted with the potential of creating deep and meaningful change,  our own fears, frustrations and self perceived limitations can surface.  I truly believe that these larger issues that face us, like climate change, are an opportunity for us to both personally and collectively heal our perceived helplessness, complacency and self-imposed limitations to creating the peaceful and sustainable world we truly want.

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10 responses to “You Can’t Scare People Into Going Green

  1. Where love fails, fear prevails.

    People need to know the truth and if they are too complacent to understand the ways of love . . . all that is left is fear.

    I believe also that fear is wrongly overused by many in the environmental movement, but in this country I doubt any approach will work us out of our complacency when it comes to these issues.

    I personally strive for balance between the two points. . . while knowing that each of us has a niche to fill.

    Bottom line we need it all, the whole package, if for no other reason than to prepare us for life AFTER the collapse.

    • I feel you on this. I think this is going to take A LOT of creativity and going places we have never gone before within ourselves and with others and listening to what we don’t know (going beyond our preconceived notions into beginner mind) and listening to everything in ourselves (fear, helplessness, hope, peace, joy, etc.) And, I don’t know the outcome and how successful we will be, but I want to enjoy making my best effort for the entire journey and touching whoever I can.

      That said, I keep thinking, that if at least 1% (maybe, even .02 % would be enough) of every community positively organized to teach, engage, implement and reach out to politicians and corporations, I can’t see why it wouldn’t be successful in some sense. Maybe, it’s easier than we make it out to be?

      I have to admit, however, community stuff is my weaker spot– I am very good at changing myself, but not sure where to begin in a more community way, but open to the path of that, starting wherever I start, no matter how awkwardly 😉

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts– as you said, we all have a niche to fill. And, YES, people do need to be aware of what is really going on– it has certainly changed me knowing these things and changed some of my habits.

      From my own experience, when I am fearful, I feel helpless (which does not empower me to create something different). At the same time, it is important to acknowledge and embrace everything we feel and not avoid it. This is where the healing begins. In presence, all things transform and new actions can be taken.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that article and for giving us your thoughts on it. Would you mind if I reblogged this?

    • Not because you wanted to reblog my digital post, but because this articulates so well the problems I have with conveying my concerns about the environment to others, as this is something I find quite frustrating. Thanks 🙂

  3. Hi Joanna, please do reblog! I am curious to hear your commentary.

  4. In my own experience, despair and fear have been completely de-mobilizing. Hope and inspiration, on the other hand, are like magical nourishment that can fuel me like nothing else.

    Having said that, I must admit I crave something more inspiring than technocratic fixes. Perhaps I’m impractical, but I long for visions and possibilities that make my heart soar, and things like new technologies for recycling just don’t do that for me.

    Perhaps it’s because deep down I don’t believe that technology will save us, or that tweaking our lifestyles towards sustainability will save us. Because when we talk about “sustainability” it begs the question “sustaining what?” And ultimately the discourse tends to be about sustaining the industrial growth society, which fills me with dread and despair.

    While we need to make everyday choices that bring us into balance with the rest of the Earth community, we need to do it for the right reasons. As you say, not out of fear (and the strategies of self-interest, which come from fear), but out of love.

    Thank you Erin for inviting reflection on this topic. So important and helpful to consider our motivations and what’s underneath them…

  5. Ruth, you definitely have a way of getting to the deeper core of things, which I love. I am always grateful for your commentary.

    Yes, yes, yes to your first paragraph! You have so articulately hit the nail on the head. This is sooooo key. Thank you.

    When you say, ” And ultimately the discourse tends to be about sustaining the industrial growth society, which fills me with dread and despair,” that really cracks something open for me. Are we just trying to find a way to be less bad within our existing system, so we can continue on in our comfortable, familiar ways that ultimately don’t create more deeply enriching lives for us where our authentic gifts are expressed and loving interconnectedness with each other and the planet deeply nourish our souls?

    I guess, sometimes, that less bad modifications of the existing system, like being more energy efficient (I rarely talk about people reducing their electrical usage as a means to go green because that’s just being less bad within an existing polluting system. We should put our energy instead into renewable energy and other solutions that get to the core of it all.) and recycling, could potentially be a gateway for some people (we all have to start somewhere). However, it is certainly not a consciousness to stay in, but merely a springboard into something greater.

  6. Pingback: Persuading People to Go Green | Every Week is Green

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