beyond resisting

My sister Rachael recently texted me to gloat that Naomi Klein would be in Portland, Oregon to promote her new book. She didn’t type “neener-neener,” but she might as well have.

There’s no way she’s visiting Portland and not L.A.! I thought. I dropped everything and searched her publisher’s events page. Nada.

When I saw an announcement including an L.A. date, I messaged Rache again. “LOS ANGELES!!!” I said.

“I get to see her first,” Rache replied.

(Neener-neener.)

Who is Naomi Klein, exactly? Apart from being author of The Shock Doctrine, she’s an inspiration to both Rache and me.

Klein looks brutality squarely in the face, assesses it, and writes about it without losing either her passion or compassion. For a couple of decades now, she has looked into the abyss without becoming it.

She’s been a light along a very, very dark journey (of history and politics) I’ve been making for about a year. I’ve read her words and heard her podcasts and thought, “I hope I can emulate her someday. I hope I, too, can choose to look upon the darkness and see within it the possibility of greater love.”

My sister listened to Klein speak in Portland on Monday. I listened, alternately tearful and laughing, in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

nine two

Far from resenting my sister for hearing Klein first, I was grateful to listen and know Rache had heard the same heart, the same compassion, the same entreaty. 

It was like Rache was in the empty seat to my left. Portland and Los Angeles were one; Monday and Wednesday briefly conjoined.

sisters 2013

As I left the theater late Wednesday evening, I gratefully felt in my purse the weight of her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. I was filled with a sense of possibility, knowing her insights and perspectives borne of deeply rooted knowledge were being read by others across the nation as I walked.

What do we do, in this world where the Trump administration is accelerating devastating bipartisan policies of the last four decades? What can we do, non-elite people whose powerful “representatives” long ago ceased to represent us? How can we ensure our children inherit a habitable world, when powerful economic interests are more concerned with their profits now?

Like other presidential administrations preceding Trump, his is using shock to push policies that would never otherwise be accepted:

We don’t go into a state of shock when something big and bad happens; it has to be something big and bad that we do not yet understand. A state of shock is what results when a gap opens up between events and our initial ability to explain them. When we find ourselves in that position, without a story, without our moorings, a great many people become vulnerable to authority figures telling us to fear one another and relinquish our rights for the greater good.

What do we do? We resist. We resist in ways deeper than simply saying “no.”

First, we need a firm grasp on how shock politics work and whose interests they serve. That understanding is how we get out of shock quickly and start fighting back. Second, and equally important, we have to tell a different story from the one the shock doctors are peddling, a vision of the world compelling enough to compete head-to-head with theirs.

There are many reasons doing so is critical. None, in my opinion, are more important than the rapidly shrinking window to ensure our children–Republican, Democrat, Independent, not American–are left with a planet capable of sustaining them. Klein writes that “we are used to narratives that reassure us about the inevitability of eventual progress.” Unfortunately, the “wealthy governments of the world have procrastinated for so long, and made the problem so much worse in the meantime, that the arc [of justice] has to bend very, very fast now–or the shot at justice is gone for good. We are almost at midnight on the climate clock.”

Where the U.S. is concerned, even the more environmentally friendly primary party has paid more attention to fossil fuel interests today than children’s needs tomorrow:

During the Democratic primaries, I was really struck by the moment when a young woman confronted Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail and asked her if–given the scale of the global warming crisis–she would pledge not to take any more money from the fossil fuel interests that are supercharging it. Up to that point, Clinton’s campaign had received large sums of money from employees and registered lobbyists of fossil fuel companies–about $1.7 million, according to Greenpeace’s research. Clinton looked disgusted and snapped at the young woman, saying she was “so sick” of this issue coming up. A few days later, in an interview, Clinton said young people should “do their own research.” The woman who had asked the question, Eva Resnick-Day, worked as a campaigner for Greenpeace. She had done her research, she insisted, “and that is why we are so terrified for the future … What happens in the next four or eight years could determine the future of our planet and the human species.”

A few months ago, I read Scientific American article entitled, “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 Years Ago.” Its slug clarifies the active, willful destruction not quite captured by the more passive title: “A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation”

Klein reflects succinctly upon the impacts of “this campaign of misinformation,” noting that “humanity lost key decades when we could have been taking the actions necessary to move to a clean economy–the same decades in which ExxonMobil and others opened up vast frontiers for oil and gas. Had we not lost that time, the Great Barrier Reef might still be healthy today.”

It can be so, so very scary to see exactly how wrong things are, and to understand that victory is not inevitable. Does that mean we don’t fight? Hell, no. Klein has a lot to say about how we can fight, and each of us can play a role in the shape–and, hopefully, success–of that fight.

With Klein’s insights filling my hope-tank, I heartily recommend No Is Not Enough. It looks like a book, but somehow, improbably, it’s actually the seeds of community.

Beyond that, I propose viewing the journey ahead as more than one of resistance. I suggest we look upon purposefully storming the road ahead as investment: in our children, and in the hope we might yet leave them with the love, inspiration, and tools they need to shape a world kinder and more just than you and I can even fathom today.

“Are you still working?” my seven-year-old, Li’l D, just asked me.

“Yes.” I said.

“To keep our home?” he asked.

I teared up as I searched for words. “Something like that. I’m trying to be part of getting other adults to make sure kids around the world, and you, have a planet that can keep being your home.”

Li’l D broke into a smile. “I like that you guys are working on that,” he said, turning back to Rugrats just in time to miss his mommy crying.

nine me and d

May we find together in time to succeed.

 

 

 

 

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  1. June 23, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Monster,

    Thanks, I”ll check this out.

    RR

  1. June 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm
  2. July 16, 2017 at 8:50 am

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