« We live in an agnostic age, no more great visions for society, all in small steps »
– Ian McEwan, Saturday.
Complication and apathy
The so-called article before your eyes, with no substance except for yours truly’s mesmerising opinion, is about denouncing smart minds and weak hearts; glorifying stubbornness and fervour over leniency and patience. It’s for a good cause: so much energy is spent developing the mind that we forget about developing the heart.
For example, climate change is not even close to being straightforward: complex terms and convoluted justifications always intrude in on the debate. The irritated and frustrated, even demoralised, people involved have made fighting climate change so complicated that we could probably add it to the list of things that would obviously save lives but will occur only after it is too late (the US arms ban is already on it).
I don’t necessarily believe the main obstacle is those who impede all action, out of an unwavering belief or utter self-interest. For every naysayer, there is an actor who is exhorted to act for change. The main obstacle can actually be found in those who have been entrusted with the mission to act and, time after time, simply do not. These have the ability to sap hopes, concern and determination from the hearts of many. The result is a Silent Majority of people shrouded in apathy.
The leaders of the world are all a bright bunch and perhaps they are just too smart. What they lack to me is brawn to go with those brains. What happened to the fierce fighters in the arena? Those who always try and never back away when faced with political calculations or failure?
We have all heard of times when leaders were quite the opposite of (a)pathetic.: think about past figures, anyone from Mandela to Ghandi or Shaquille O’Neal (alright not this last one). Out of pure nationalism (that I dare hope you will forgive me for), I sometimes think of Winston Churchill (and yes Great Britain rocks some good Olympic Games!).
What would he think of current international shenanigans? What would Winston do? This man of defiance and wits does belong to another era and yes, he may not have cared about fighting climate change. But were he still around, he would definitely not have dilly-dallied forever. Negotiations would have been shaken up, diplomatic feathers would have been ruffled, and the scene would be different. A BBC article I once read, about another topic, stated that “This is the kind of mentality we need. Not a short-term goal, catering to the continuously shifting political whim, but a long-term plan where each step is achievable and sustainable.”
My point therefore is that it is as much about intellect as it is about guts. The former needs the latter in order to drive the point home, and without it we are but smart sheep.
Perhaps climate change is too difficult a threat to pin down precisely, maybe now is not the time to address such issues. On the other hand, we have never been so aware of the imminent danger of climate change as we are now, never been part of such a strong international community as we are at present and if our moment is not today, tomorrow won’t look good either (quick reminder: 1940 probably did not seem like the right time to defy the Nazis …).
Imagine what today can do with a few billion bold hearts and minds! We could mitigate, adapt, develop and protect. We might even be able to bring Freddy Mercury back (and God knows we need him). We, the people, youth, students, CliMates, we have to be the decision makers and the innovators who believe! Time to place brawn with brain power, determination with pragmatism and prove sharp savvy can come with blunt boldness.
by Jonathan Clarke