So, how is everyone doing this week? I’ll be honest – I’m not doing brilliantly. I try to make this blog as positive and hopeful as possible, because I don’t see that there is much to be gained by afflicting everyone else with my depression, but yeah. It’s been a rough week. (Also, work has been both busy and chaotic, and all my joints have decided they hate me, which is not improving my mood.)
Also, it turns out that underneath the depression I’m actually really angry, which is an emotion I find hard to manage constructively.
Case in point: I was sent an article this week about a new film coming out, called 2040. The film is by Damon Gameau, and it’s about the actions we can take on a personal and community level to mitigate climate change. While he agrees and provides evidence for a climate emergency, he wanted to focus on hope, because he felt that ‘It makes things happen. People can too easily become depressed or overwhelmed by thinking about the future, and this makes it hard to think creatively or positively.’
This is something I generally agree with, but the article went on to say:
He didn’t set out to avoid economic and political issues, to ignore structural inequities, special interests and corporate power. The first cut of 2040 was more than three hours long, and he canvassed many of these things. “But it felt dry, felt too heavy, it felt like a different film.
The resulting work “is a more aspirational vision, with things we can strive for and fight for, rather than a familiar narrative that the system needs addressing” .
Now, I’m normally all about the micro actions, the little things we can do in our everyday lives to make the world a bit better. And, as I’ve said, I try to be hopeful here, and not present problems with no solutions (or no mitigations). But I have to admit, my initial response to this was absolute rage.
Because yes, of course there are things we can all do, but, frankly, me installing solar panels or compost or reusing my water is going to have very little impact if the government is just going to approve new coal mines and subsidise the mining industry. There is a *reason* that the narrative that the system needs addressing is familiar.
Also… I can’t help noting that it is very convenient for the government and corporations to put all the responsibility for action back on the community. Not only does this mean that the government can continue to do nothing, but it keeps those of us who really do care about climate change nicely occupied with policing ourselves and each other. I’d also like to note, in passing, that it can be pretty difficult for someone who is struggling to get by on a pension, or who is spending all their usable hours fighting to get support through the NDIS to do a lot, because they are using a very high proportion of their resources just to survive. (Having said that, most of my friends who are on disability do an enormous amount despite these restrictions on their resources. But it’s still a bit rich to demand that they pull their weight while the government does its best to undermine them at every turn.)
Of course, the fact that the article was from The Australian (which I’m finding increasingly hard to treat as a good-faith news source), and that it was sent to me by someone who is, I suspect, quite happy with the election outcome (I am trying hard not to find out. Which is to say, I’m currently avoiding all contact lest I say something unforgiveable.) probably contributed to my rage.
Anyway, I started writing back along the above lines, but quickly realised that this was unlikely to achieve anything positive and that it was far more mature (and so much more deliciously passive aggressive!) to write a blog post instead. So here we are.
I suspect that 2040 is a good and useful film, by the way, and the fact that it apparently comes with a portfolio of actions to take is quite appealing. I may even go and see it (though my track record for remembering to go and see films I want to watch is abysmal). This is not about panning a film that I haven’t seen and that does not, so far as I am aware, deserve my rage.
But I wanted to put my reaction out there as a barometer, of sorts. So many people responded to my last blog post with such heartfelt grief and anger and fear that I thought it was only fair to be transparent and honest with you. I want you to know that I’m not sitting up here, above all of this, dispensing words of wisdom. I’m down in the mud with the rest of you, mourning the opportunity we have lost and feeling sad and furious and anxious about the future. But we can be kind to each other from here, too.
I’m not going to stop my individual action, because if all we can do is bale out the ocean with teaspoons then that’s what we have to do. And I know I’m luckier than most, which to my mind increases my obligation to wield my teaspoon with as much vigor as I can. But it makes me feel sick that we had the opportunity to do something more – to at least break out the dessert spoons, if not the ladles – and we squandered it.
Anyway. I wasn’t up to a serious letter-writing campaign this week, but I thought it might be worth listing some things I did manage to do, to look after myself and to try to help others. (My list is pretty heavy on the petitions and donations this week, because money was something I could spare whereas time, energy and brainpower were at a pretty low ebb.)
I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to, too.
Ten things for me
- I watched Eurovision with friends both in my loungeroom and in Germany via SMS. (My favourite Australian thing is watching international events at unsociable hours while hanging out virtually with friends in Europe. Yes, I’m odd.)
- I went for a walk, and took some photos of flowers.
- I had a day off and actually caught up on sleep. Sleep is excellent.
- I visited the new gnocchi shop that was just started by some people we know from the farmers’ markets, and we have certainly eaten a lot of gnocchi this week…
- I did a bit of comfort re-reading – Speak its Name, by Kathleen Jowitt (really one of the kindest books I’ve ever read, reviewed here), and Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (fun regency fantasy, like Georgette Heyer but with magic).
- I rode my bicycle to and from work on a really nice, not too windy day.
- I rang a friend who I don’t get to catch up with anywhere near often enough, and we had a long chat.
- I went to choir even though I really just wanted to go home and sleep, because I know that singing will actually make me feel better if I can just bring myself to start.
- I booked a week of leave for after the next batch of grants go in.
- I booked in to see a physio about my wrist, which I have buggered up again by doing too much writing and too much cooking. (Sometimes, self-care is kind of basic…)
Ten things for others
- I wrote to Scott Morrison congratulating him on his election and asking him to let Priya and her family go home to Biloela
- I kind of accidentally held a unilateral dinner party on Monday. In my defense, I just assumed that everyone was there for dinner and started cooking accordingly. And nobody complained. But apparently, no, our friends were just dropping in to say hi. It was a really nice evening, though.
- I wrote a brief note of thanks to Rebekha Sharkie, who has said that she will stand against attempts to repeal the Medivac Bill.
- I took cake in to work on Tuesday. Because I was not the only depressed person at work this week. And I really do love my scientists.
- I signed a petition to grant a visa to a 2 year old boy with haemophilia whose mother is here on a skilled shortage visa and is willing and able to pay for his health costs, and whose life will be significantly shortened if they have to return to the Maldives.
- I put another $25 into my Kiva portfolio. Kiva provides micro-loans to people starting small businesses in third-world countries, and donations can go a long way, especially if you recycle them whenever they get paid back.
- I rang the vet who looked after our cat at the end of her life, and arranged to help pay a vet bill for someone who couldn’t afford it.
- I signed a petition calling on all levels of government to declare a climate emergency.
- I sponsored a friend’s fundraising walk, and helped her raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
- I wrote this blog post!! (That counts, doesn’t it? I wanted to get to ten… and it hasn’t been my best week…)
(On reflection, I did a bit more than I thought, which tells me something about the way my brain works. I’ve been taking notes this week in case I wanted to write a list of small, positive actions for this blog, and think I might continue the habit, for those days when the conviction of uselessness strikes…)