• Ian McClellan

Week 13: Dance like no-one is watching.

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

It has been one of those weeks.

Work has been busy. Leo has had an inexplicable bug, that is neither one thing nor the other. When it is like this, like all of us it is hard to think of much else than work, sleep, and looking after each other.

We have been making changes for three months, and it has flown by, but instead of making a new little change this week, it felt like a good week to reflect, and re-read some of the little changes we have made in the past 12 weeks. A bit like I said at the start, it is good to pause and see how far you have come.

I am also thinking about sharing what we're doing with friends on social media, and so have been thinking about whether this is a good idea, and what it might achieve.

It has seemed strange also keeping a public diary, but not really telling anyone about it, but something has made me hesitate these last months. I have reservations about advertising my thoughts to the world, even within our protected immediate community of social media friends. I have written, and re-written, an announcement post that explains what we are doing, and why we are doing it. It started at about a hundred words, then fifty, then none. Then back up to a hundred, and so on.

The tone at first felt self-aggrandising, then too apologetic. I have found it difficult to find an authentic voice, something that doesn't feel forced or that I are trying to build a profile. It is perhaps inexperience at this, and perhaps fear. I am expecting and hoping for a lot of love from people we know. I hope we are being balanced, and finding positive common ground, yet also being thought provoking in a way that helps everyone makes changes. Because I still truly believe that change is needed, a change in attitude and a change in behaviour.

But I also have a desire to join a bigger conversation, and hope this diary will spread through sharing, at least a little bit. If this happens, I need to prepare ourselves to be told either that what we are doing is nonsense, that we are wrong, that what we are doing is not a new idea, that it is not going to make a difference, that we are not doing enough, or that we haven't considered certain points or certain arguments. The fear of this picks away at me, and prevents me from being brave and pressing the 'share' button. But in the more lucid and confident moments, I go back to our passion that I have to join the climate conversation somehow. I need to join, even if I do not necessarily think we are going to start a great movement, or that there are going to be people that don't agree.

I think also, over the course of the last 3-months, I have needed to let go of how I thought this project would be. I thought it would be easy, and I thought that we were doing a lot already to help the planet. Our natural human need to be perfect, was a loud voice that told me that we could educate and help others from a position of strength.

But in talking to others, by trying to read or listen to all opinions, by trying to find a common ground, I also realised that I was failing in so many ways. I was wrong to think it would be easy, but right to think it would be fun. I was failing the planet, and part of what is happening in the world is my fault, and doing something about it feels good. We were doing nowhere near what we could to have a more planetwise approach to life, and still this is the case. But we have become students of our actions, and a conduit to the great ideas of others. It is fun, but has also become a compulsion to do better. I wanted to invite others to join in, but actually we realised that we need others to help us be better ourselves in the first place.

I also went all the way back to the first post, to remind myself how frustrated I had become with the divisive nature of opinion on matters of the planet. This reminded me that since we started making changes, not much else has changed in a meaningful way - although how could I expect it to given it has been just a few months. The young say the old have neglected the planet, that they deny what is in plain sight and will leave a legacy of destruction and extinction. The old say that the young are simply looking for someone to blame whilst they are driven to school in 4x4s, and that the argument holds no weight given that their own childhoods were defined by reusable milk and pop bottles.

I am not sure whether to praise or be disillusioned by global organisations and institutions. I see recently that Amazon have made an announcement to pledge $10 billion to fund scientific climate research, and I think it is a wonderful thing. But then I become cynical that it might just a tax-efficient marketing strategy, to fund others to figure out how to solve the problems that Amazon themselves are creating. Why turn the mirror on yourselves, and why take the cost or the risk of having to change, or create a distraction from relentless growth? Just pay someone else to worry about it, and get some great PR in the process. Pay someone else to get lost in research, to lobby for regulations, and hope that by the time any regulations come in that might limit or hurt the business, you've already made the $10 billion or more back in profits.

But at the same time, this cynicism makes me feel guilty and I feel sucked into the divisive argument, because at least they are trying, and perhaps what is discovered will transcend cardboard boxes or plastic toys. These are people who have much more access and resource than me, and perhaps they have the humble realisation that the solution is beyond even their own creativity and intelligence.

This then energises me behind the principle and the idea of connections, and of individual power. Amazon are openly obsessed with consumers, and how to satisfy our wants and desires. Therefore, it must be at some level the actions and the data of customers that have driven the organisation to make this pledge. We should be proud as individuals that we have helped with this change, and it shows that we are all connected. That if we make individual, positive changes, we can create ripples of change at a much larger scale. For this we should feel good, but also thanks Amazon for listening and acting, because many do not.

I also reminded myself that this was a log of progress, and just because I don't feel like we are doing enough, does not mean we are not progressing. I hoped this was just the start of our family’s path to being more conscious of our actions and our consumption, and the start of learning new habits that are more wise about our planet for us.

So in a nutshell, I will likely share our diary soon, and ask for support, but without a plan or a commitment other than a hope that we join and contribute to the conversation in a positive manner. It is important, because we are all at the same party here on planet Earth, and frankly right now the party is not going too well.

Like me, maybe many of us are hovering at the side of the dance floor, desperate but reluctant to join in. Or we are forming our own groups, where we reinforce and validate our own views and glower menacingly at the other groups who disagree. It has to be time to join in, to take a deep breath, and to get on the dance floor and bust some moves. To take action even if others might laugh at you.

I will remember that it is much harder to create new ideas, than to criticise the ideas of others. Any ideas, that move our planet forward, should be met with kindness. We won't be discouraged by those who disagree, and we will not be vain enough to think that anyone will care. We will just continue to do what we think is right, and try to be kind to the planet, and try to be better each day.

We will continue to dance like there is no-one watching, but hope that others will join us, and show us their own moves. Everyone is welcome on the dance floor, and it's the only way we can turn this party around.

#beplanetwise #littlechanges

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