What Am I Supposed To Do?


I hear this phrase every time a serious discussion of our current dilemmas–Climate Change, Species Extinction, Environmental Degradation through oil, coal, etc,–rears their head. I hear it more often now because what with the Pope taking it all on, and the worst fire season in history upon Canadians; the planet and its life forms do seem to be in dire straits. And it’s said in tones of genuine, deep, frustration and fear.
I heard it at a recent book reading of people discussing my novel, CITY OF DESIRE, which takes those themes on, and then some. I heard it from the very old, the middle aged, even the young. I had to think about giving a reasonable answer, one that would actually be useful. Because one of our most vexing problems is that feeling of utter helplessness when we contemplate our current situation. Yet, we’re supposed to be living in a democracy, so in theory, we should be able to do something beyond recycling and not using pesticides in our gardens.
The good news: we can, we should, and we will.
First, become informed. Really. Read the relevant books; one of the best is Naomi Klein’s THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. Subscribe to websites like DeSmogBlog,brendan@desmogblog.com; Inside Climate News insideclimatenews.org/, Green Peace www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/home/, Force of Nature organizer@forceofnaturealliance.ca; TruthDig newsletter@truthdig.com; The Tyee, thetyee.ca to name just a few. They will keep you informed and up to date.
After you’ve done that, talk.
Yes, talk about what you’ve learned, to neighbours, friends, frenemies, anybody you just met in the lineup at the supermarket. Bug them. Lay it out for them. Don’t back down when they start whining about how confusing it all is, and what can they do, after all? Tell them that before anything changes in the real world, people’s minds have to change, and their hearts have to wake up and become engaged. And that is one thing you, me, and everyone can do. If we do that, Harper will not be re-elected, a distracted and fear ridden electorate notwithstanding. We will elect a government that acts on the global catastrophe heading our way, instead of burying its head in the Tar Sands.
Talk it forward: that’s what you can do. So. Do. It!

You’ll not only feel a whole lot better, but it might just do something.

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