Public speaking doesn’t terrify or immobilize me, but it’s not my favorite pastime by a long shot. I greatly admire those who can speak extemporaneously, precisely and with passion. I’ll add it to my bucket list. In the meantime, I look for and respond to any opportunities to speak about Transition because I figure the more I do of it, the easier it will become and the better at it I will be. But it’s not easy to strike a balance between reminding people of how bad things really are and inviting them to engage in a movement that, at the very least, suggests a softer, more resilient impact could be possible. So, now I’m gathering my energy for a presentation at my Unitarian Universalist congregation next week, and wrestling to get the words I want to say down on paper.
I dislike grandiosity in others and try to scour it from my own writing or speech. Yet I could not resist using quotes on the environment from President Obama’s inaugural speech. After all, his words are a major breakthrough in acknowledging the threats posed to civilization by climate change. They represent to me an intention, a direction, even if I have reservations about just exactly how ‘we will respond’ when his administration is also committed to supporting conventional energy production, fracking included. (And there’s the rub. As Einstein famously said: “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”)
What resonated with me was the phrase ‘We the People’ which Obama repeated several times. So, in the context of climate change, the word ‘we’ seems less about reassuring us that the government (and technology) will handle it, and more of a challenge to us all to take responsibility for how we have been, and may still be, contributing to a worsening environment, and where we can change our behavior. That is essentially what the Transition movement aims at: behavior change, one individual, household, neighborhood, town at a time, so that it will all add up to cultural shift from — as the saying goes — ‘Me’ to ‘We.’ That it may just work is what keeps me hanging in there, one blog post, speech, email or conversation at a time.