“People gonna rise like water, and turn this system round. In the voice of my great grand-daughter, climate justice now”
From the phoenix-like flames of Notre Dame, to the sound of hundreds of people joining in a traditional Scottish mourning song on the streets of London, and from hearing Greta Thunberg address the crowds at Marble Arch, to the death of Polly Higgins yesterday, the week has been overwhelmingly full of hope and grief, in equal measure.
I have watched from afar, feeling pride in my fellow humans who are standing up for my children and yours, for the rights of all life on earth and yes, for Earth herself. Feeling connection with the fire of the divine feminine rising as Notre Dame ablaze lit the night sky over Paris. Feeling sorrow for the loss of a woman whose legacy must surely be new powers that protect the planet. Feeling frustration that I can’t put my two feet and my heart and my voice to work in the rebellion taking place in London. Feeling awe and inspiration and hope listening to the young woman who has brought the fight for climate justice to the hearts and minds of school age children the world over. Feeling the hypocrite, that I still am not doing enough. Feeling fear for my children and theirs, and shame that I have been complicit in leaving them a planet destroyed by consumerism and greed. So much to feel. So much to despair and grieve over.
But the peaceful march on capitalism, on ecocide, on economics, and on the governments who can, if they choose, make positive change happen, is on the move, is growing, and is gaining support daily from people of all walks of life. I imagine, in the moments when I feel hope that these actions will produce long lasting positive results, a future where history records these brave Earth Protectors, these courageous Rebels, these inspiring leaders, in the same way as we look back now at human rights activists, civil rights activists, suffrage activists. Of all the emotions that are turning through me, hope is what I’m clinging on to like a life raft.
When hope is all you have, you have to make it count. Caroline Lucas, writing in today’s Guardian about Greta Thunberg’s UK visit said
“There is hope in a generation of people who are demanding from their leaders not just what seems politically possible but what is scientifically necessary to prevent total climate breakdown. That generation builds on longstanding struggles, particularly from environmental defenders who have risked – and given – their lives defending their land, water and rights against the power of fossil fuel firms who have stopped at nothing in their pursuit of the bottom line.”
We can grieve all that is lost, all that will be lost, but have hope that our collective actions will be enough to turn the system, the destruction, the loss around. The Earth that our great grandchildren will inherit deserves to be cared for, nurtured and protected. And only hope, and a whole lot of action, will get us to that point. We are literally holding the planet and it’s future in the palm of our hands.
The feeling that for me has been running up a close second to hope, has been outright frustration. Mostly at not being able to be part of the rebellion, but also at the desire so many people have to discredit the movement. I’ve been combating my frustration at not being a physical part of the rebellion by watching the live streams on social media, and sending supportive messages to those who are there, standing for me and my children. Indeed, while the mainstream media has largely ignored the last week of rebellion, social media has been key in keeping up to date with what’s been happening. At those who seek to challenge the Rebels because they probably flew once or twice in their lives, maybe the drove a car to the protest, or eat meat, or wear leather, or drink water out of single use plastic, or litter (or none of the above) I’ve been practicing deep breathing and sending out peaceful intention to them. And grumbling a fair bit too. It’s hard to remain peaceful when people are spreading lies, but important to put the extra effort into not getting drawn into their drama.
In terms of our personal actions at home, the children and I have started a plan to fill our garden with trees – growing them in pots until we have somewhere to plant them. We already have a Rowan, an eleven year old Horse Chestnut, a Corkscrew Hazel, a Birch, and a Sycamore. I’d like to have some more native species, and some fruiting trees too. I will share our progress as we grow more trees, and perhaps we might inspire you to grow some trees in pots in your garden too?
Online we are changing our search engine too – Ecosia uses their ad revenue to plant trees. That must be a good thing, right? I’ll let you know how we get on – perhaps you already use it? Leave a comment below if you do.
There’s a hopefulness about trees that has always soothed me. A flexibility. As the roots are anchored into earth, so the branches, reaching skyward, must flex against the strength of the winds. Bend but not break. There is a determination with trees to grow whatever the circumstance. I remember a derelict house, not far from where I live now, that had a tree growing right through the middle of it. I have seen Rowan trees growing literally out of the side of mountains. When I was a teenager, my dad brought home four birch saplings from work. Work that day had been fixing someone’s gutters. The trees had been growing in the gutter – tiny wee saplings from seeds brought no doubt by a bird. Rather than throw them out, dad brought them home, and put them in pots in the garden. When I moved into my own home, one of the trees came with me, and now grows at the bottom of my garden, surrounded by winter flowering jasmine, clematis and ivy. It’s in the shadow of a huge sycamore, and ought not really to have had much chance of surviving, but it does, growing and reaching into the lighter spaces, despite it’s larger and more imposing neighbor.
When I think of all the people standing for our planet, from the oldest to the youngest, I see a forest of strongly rooted trees, all moving as one, flexing against the prevailing wind, supporting each other, full of determination and strength as fierce and hard as the bedrock beneath, so that not even the rising waters will drown out all the courageous spirits within. A legacy full of hope for all the great grandchildren to come.
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