Friday, April 24, 2009

Productive Distraction

Good question from No Impact Man yesterday:

How do we get people not to try not to care?

Given the immense emotional energy we expend worrying about our immediate, personal-level problems, to accept the burden of planet-level problems is overwhelming. It's extra pain, bonus frustration. And since, unlike our own worries, which often stem from obstacles we can, by ourselves, or with a little help, overcome, the big problems - war, poverty, corruption, pollution, disease, climate change, etc. - are all but the tiniest fraction out of our control. They're causes for hopelessness, the kinds of things that drive people to alcohol, heroin, styrofoam coffee cups, and V-12 luxury SUVs.

When I first read the question, the answer that jumped to my mind was to convince people that caring is more fun. And to start the convincing process with Bob Thurman's TED Talk.

But, thinking about it more, I wondered if maybe Bob's too stark a contrast, too giggly for people that are struggling so much that they're trying not to care.

So maybe Bill McKibben (and a comment he made in an interview with Yale Environment 360) is a better starting point...

e360: How optimistic are you that the world will take the steps necessary to avoid what you see are the most drastic effects of climate change?

McKibben: You know, for the moment, I am not spending my time being either optimistic or pessimistic. I am just working.

Just working. Head down. One word at a time. One nail at a time. One meal at a time.

Harder to worry about the pain of caring when the task at hand is clear. And accomplishable. And needing to get done. Right now.

blog comments powered by Disqus