What do you do when you’re confronted with the darkness of powerful, but single-minded and ignorant institutions which continue to destroy our planet with impunity?
You shine a light so strong it cuts through the grey clamour of that greedy power and reveals a single word:
We’ve all been reading the headlines. The onslaught of news stories; lamely quitting globally accepted climate agreements, the banging of war drums for cash, the accusations of sexual misconduct, the corporate bullying, the wanton exploitation of our precious planet – it has all been been disheartening and exhausting.
Yet, we did not back down. We did not succumb to disillusionment and apathy.
We have been equal to each and every challenge that has been set against us. Each and every wilful misrepresentation of what we stand for, each and every attempt to ignore the fierce fires and storm warnings of a planet under siege and the myriad of cynical incentives to consume, consume, consume. These false narratives and attempts to hijack our future have not deterred us. Instead, they have galvanised us and drawn us closer together in a common acknowledgement of what we all need to do:
Resist and rise.
Part of effective resistance is to look ahead. Look at the possibilities that have opened up in front of us because of the challenges we all face. Movements, like #metoo, have reminded us how a single act of courage can be contagious and can lead to much bigger changes in society.
Rising up means moving quickly to spot opportunities and embrace and encourage solutions. The rapid pace at which wind and solar energy is marginalising those who once tried to marginalise us for daring to dream of a healthier world is an opportunity we all must seize. Rising is about making sure we keep this momentum going as much as it means innovating new ways to make sure our demands are met.
Training young Syrians and Palestinians in solar energy technology
When politicians want to act against climate change, they can leap over the fossil fuel puppets standing in their way. We’ve learned how to encourage and empower real leaders. At home, we’re learning the backstory of the food that ends up on our plates and how that story is either saturated with the chemicals of agribusiness or infused with the healthy nourishment of sustainable, healthy eco-agriculture. Yes, we can feed the planet in a more healthy and ecologically-friendly way.
We also have learned that in resistance, all acts of courage are equal. One man taking a knee during the anthem of an American football game is just as courageous as collecting the waste on a beach in the Philippines. People of all ages putting their bodies in front of logging machinery in an ancient forest in Poland is as powerful as a 12 year-old girl in Canada who asked us, “How do I begin making the world right?”
Kids for forest protest
Courage begins by questioning a contrived and imposed reality. The struggle for that 12 year-old’s future is as much about challenging what we’ve been hard-wired to believe about ourselves – that we need to buy things to feel good, that we are powerless against massive institutions – as it is taking an unequivocal stand against the seemingly powerful entities that want to rip this one and only planet apart to fill their wallets and cling to power.
These, after all, are the very same few people whose falsities we’ve refused to accept as the norm. These are the people trying to convince us that we are powerless. It is their barometer we’re using to measure our self-worth. We know who they are now, so tomorrow we know how to resist them.
Activists conduct a beach clean up and brand audit in the Phillippines
Tomorrow we will continue to reclaim that barometer as we learn to regain trust and love in ourselves and every other living thing. This is how yesterday’s great accomplishments – from exposing shady trade deals, to documenting a vast and previously unknown peatland in the Congo Basin, from establishing vast marine sanctuaries, to holding governments and corporations legally accountable, from finally declaring the retirement of single-use plastic, to loudly ringing the death knell of oil and coal – become the springboard from which we leap into a healthy, sustainable and renewable future.
And, in the spirit of reclaiming that barometer, let’s not think about our future in terms of years. Let’s think about our future in terms of what we will do tomorrow.
Tomorrow we break the cycle of overconsumption.
Tomorrow we hold corporations accountable.
Tomorrow we try to decrease the terrible impact of the industrial livestock machine.
Tomorrow, we stand together so that people everywhere are treated a little more equally.
Tomorrow we shake power structures that only serve the few at the expense of the many.
Tomorrow we are positive about our future and will rebuild the planet the way it should be.
Because tomorrow, we resist and we rise.
We’ll see you there.
Bunny Mcdiarmid and Jennifer Morgan are the Executive Directors of Greenpeace International
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