Why were there so few comments? How come, when we talk about how to compost, we get a huge discussion, but when we mention civil disobedience, there is quiet?
Do we all agree that we are facing an emergency? Do we agree that we need rapid societal change in order to deal with the emergency? Do we have a better way to deal with this emergency than protests?
"The problem I foresee is that no matter how effective this gesture is, it will probably only be a gesture. That doesn't mean it isn't worth doing, but the reality of the convergence of peak oil and climate change means that if we are to make real shifts in the situation, among other things, we'd have to a have a populace willing to do with a lot less... I am still a little mystified about why you don't actually ask your readers to do the thing that might actually matter - demonstrate, not just for one evening a la Earth Hour, but in their lives, that they are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to shut down the coal plants."
"I'm waaaay over the protest model of civil disobedience. Don't get me wrong - I'm planning to go to this - but I want other options for political activism... It seems to me we need more - more ways to be activist. We need a new model for civic engagement that supplements sixties-style civil disobedience and inspires all those people who roll their eyes at this kind of protest. We need those voices too - how can we inspire them to speak?"
I have to admit to being flummoxed at times. The obstacles are great. There is still not a critical mass of people who believe we are in a crisis and who can overcome the influence of special interests in the political realm. Nor do there seem to be enough people willing to change their lifestyles to have sufficient effect to reduce our resource use substantially.
Two things, I think: One is that we have to continue to look for and examine new methods of activism.
I like a model I call "distributed power," where we become self-sufficient enough in our energy generation and food growth, as examples, to take the power out of the hands of centralized corporations and "distribute" the power to the people. But again, we're back to the question of how to get enough people to participate.
The other way forward is to start from where we are. That is to say, if the only tools we have are dispersed individual action and gesture-like political action, then we accept that, for now, those are the tools we have. We can't afford to wait around until we have the best plan.
In other words, just because we don't know if there might be more efficient ways to start doesn't mean we shouldn't start. Just because we don't know what step four or five in the process should be, doesn't mean we shouldn't take step one.
Just because we aren't sure if we'll make a difference doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
When I say we, I don't just mean the radicals in the crowd. I mean all of us. If you believe, as I do, that there is an emergency, then it's time to stop outsourcing your concerns simply because you've never imagined yourself to be an activist.
It's time to try. It's time for all of us to try.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.