Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Does it Take a Catastrophe for Needed Action to Take Place?

I was moved to tears by President Obama's address to the grieving people of Newtown, Connecticut tonight, and impressed by his resolve to use the powers of his office to end the cycle.  "We can't tolerate this anymore," the President said. "These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and it is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."

Why does it take a catastrophe to make government take necessary action?  Aren't we smart enough to see that something must be done or the unthinkable will happen?  Maybe we are, but those in opposition say we're overreacting and nothing gets done until, well, something comes along like what happened Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

You hear it all the time from people who care deeply about the unravelling climate: the needed changes won't happen until a catastrophic event takes place, then we'll act.  Of course then it will be too late. 

Because if fires in Colorado, devastating heat across the nation, drought in the farm belt, and then the ginormous wake-up call that was Hurricane Sandy didn't count as catastrophes, what on Earth will?  

The event that will finally make people realize how serious this is will have to be so big that it will surely go hand-in-hand with permanent change setting in.  Greenland melting rapidly and Florida vanishing under ever rising sea levels.  Something like that.  Then it will be too late to stop this.

So every one who cares about the climate has to realize that he and she has to demand change.  They have to read Gene Sharp's books and educate themselves on nonviolence, and take it upon themselves to make the difference.  Don't just give to a climate organization, don't just wait for their next action.  Find people who share your concern in your community and start pushing your leaders, the media, your neighbors.  It's a thankless job, but at some point critical mass will happen, as it did with the Civil Rights movement.  Remember, the leaders are powerless without us.  We have to lead them.  Don't wait for the catastrophe.  Please.



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