Thanksgiving and a Climate of Hope

ALOHAThis Thanksgiving, we at ClimateMama are seeking to channel the true meaning of Aloha, and we hope you will join us. Most of us understand Aloha to be a Hawaiian greeting, a simple expression of hello or goodbye. The deeper Hawaiian meaning is actually much more complex; it expresses the combined notions of compassion, love and peace.

At our Thanksgiving dinner tables this year, now more then ever, love, compassion and peace are feelings, hopes and ideals that we need to embrace so that we can all move forward in a positive and constructive direction. It seems that so many people remain stuck “post election.” While we all need to come to grips with our own emotions, to validate them and to take needed time to do so; we also must remain active, observant and involved. Deciding not to “talk about” the differing opinions and views we may have with family and friends is NOT the way to move ourselves, our families, or our nation forward. Not only do we need to talk about our hopes and our concerns, we need to try our best to let others share their hopes and concerns with us as well. Listening to family and friends and HEARING the views of those we may have alienated or who may have alienated us is critical to finding common ground and creating hope.

As such, we wanted to offer 3 broad tips and conversation ideas that have resonated deeply with us. We feel that the advice below is useful – not only for Thanksgiving discussions – but also for sharing, thinking and acting on well beyond Thanksgiving and the holiday season. We have abbreviated the quotes below and pulled them out of longer discussions and we are adding links to the posts in their entirety so you can dig deeper as well.

1. On Climate facts from A Climate Scientist
Richard C.J. Somerville: Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

ClimateRealityHSmemeHave a civil conversation. In his heart, your “Uncle Pete” would probably admit that everybody is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts. When it comes to facts, we scientists have the high ground. The world is warming. It’s not a hoax. We measure it. The warming did not stop in 1998. All the warmest years are recent years. 2016 will be the warmest year on record. 2015 is second. 2014 is third. The atmosphere is warming, and so is the ocean. Sea level is rising. Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking. Rainfall patterns and severe weather events are changing. Climate change is real, and serious, and happening right here, right now. And it isn’t natural. Human activities are the dominant cause of the climate changes we have observed in recent decades.

We must act. We can’t dither any longer. If Uncle Pete wants to keep the government from controlling his life and diminishing his freedom–as most all of us do–then we all need to learn about and accept the science. We all need to take the threat of climate change seriously. We all must act wisely, and urgently, to minimize that threat and thereby limit the damage of climate change to tolerable levels.

2. On Hate & Anger that welled up during the November US Elections
John Pavlovitz: Pastor and writer from Wake Forest, North Carolina

I believe you when you say that you’re not a racist.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a bigot.
I believe you when you say you’re not homophobic.
I believe you when you say you’re not a misogynist.
I believe you when you say you’re not an Islamophobe.
I believe you when you say you’re not an anti-Semite.
I believe you when you say that you don’t condone violence and discrimination and bullying.

But I won’t keep believing you if you remain silent.

3. On being Sanctimonious
Lisa Bennett: Mom, writer, speaker and communication strategist, California

Opinions may vary but this much seems clear: Suggesting that climate change (or any issue) is more important than all others is simply not helpful. It invites argument. It belies the fact that all big issues are complex and, in many ways, connected. And, perhaps most importantly, it fails to reflect how human beings experience life, which is on a much more immediate and personal level. Last year, for example, when my mother was dying, climate change became a complete abstraction to me. When I’ve been out of work, making money has been the most important thing. When I’ve been sick, getting healthy trumped everything. And people have these kinds experiences every day, which means that every time someone says climate change is the most important issue of the day, they run smack into the objection (repeatedly affirmed by polls) that says: Not to me. At least, not to me right now.

So if you want to avoid the sanctimonious trap, refrain from saying that climate change (or whatever your issue) is the most important issue of our day. Call it important; or better yet, say it concerns you for whatever personal reason it does—and whatever reason you think might be shared by the person you are talking to. Avoid implying that you know better, or in any way are better than others because of what you understand or do about the environment (even if it makes you nervous that they “don’t get it.”)

For more thoughts on “post election” actions and hope, listen to our recent talk with Green Diva Meg on the Green Divas Radio Show. On behalf of all of us at ClimateMama, we wish you and yours a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving as we all strive to build a livable, safe and sustainable future and now for our children and ourselves.


Climate Mama

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