By JAN SLAKOV
After a night of spiritual awakening, Scrooge gets out of bed, learns Christmas Day is just beginning and yes, the prize turkey is still for sale.
Christmas 2019 is over, but it is still not too late. The “prize turkey” may be gone, but are there still intact ecosystems and healthy communities working to protect them? Yes!
It can be hard to keep our spirits up though, after so many hopeful efforts have seemingly failed.
One of my favourite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, invites us to figure out what we hope for and then, “live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
What might that mean? For Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Town movement, imagination and creativity are key. Imagining a low-carbon community, and working together to make it happen has been empowering. “When organizers asked participants [involved in Transition work] what was most impactful about taking part, nobody mentioned carbon. Or money. They reported that they felt [. . .] as though they belonged.” To learn more, check out his “From What Is to What If” video or get the book.
Hopkins found research showing that creativity and IQ rose concomitantly from the ‘60s till the ‘90s, when creative thinking started to decline. The researcher attributed this to children having less time for play, more time on devices, etc. So it’s encouraging to know that Salt Spring Middle School parents and staff are restricting the use of electronic devices in school.
Let’s collect examples we can revisit, as “talismans,” so we can know what is possible. For example, while I know wars happen, I also know they can be prevented. Exhibit #1 might be this: Once a man, in pain over the loss of a friend in the Vietnam War, came to a Pete Seeger concert, intending to kill the performer. But Seeger saw his banjo as a “machine that surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” Somehow, for that man, being there with all those people singing together was indeed transformative. The man came up to Seeger afterwards to tell him that the concert had “cleansed” his anger.
Most Canadians went along with residential school policies, some convinced this was helpful for the stolen children. Now we know that thousands never made it out alive, and the policy of separating Indigenous people from their lands and culture continues. The Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline is still being pushed through Wetsuwet’en territory, fracking is subsidized in B.C. even though it has been banned in New Brunswick and elsewhere. But people struggling to protect their territory are not alone. Islanders and others have helped to build a healing lodge in the path of the pipeline and legal challenges continue.
For me, a highlight of 2019 was participating in an impromptu solidarity protest for Wetsuwet’en land defenders, a protest blocking Vancouver’s Hastings and Main streets. Often, I find it tough to witness how people there, with no other “living room” than the street, struggle with trauma, addiction, homelessness. But that day many of those people seemed well, standing up for their beliefs, and city police did their job in a respectful, caring manner. Another world is possible. May 2020 help us get there!