I wrote this at the end of this summer, after spending 7 weeks as a madatz (junior counsellor, educator) at the socialist Jewish social-justice oriented where i grew up
To me, our climate organizing feels like a constant state of crisis. I feel we are in a frantic fight to prevent catastrophe. We feel our society sliding towards disaster and are digging our nails into the ground to pull ourselves back up.
Eventually, our finger nails break. Eventually the stress gets too high.
This is not the world we’re trying to build.
It was important to me to reframe the necessity of addressing the climate crisis. The Earth warming 2 degrees celsius is in itself not worrying. We don’t feel pain or grief for warmer air molecules. We are worried because of the hurt this instability will inflict on people. Our goal is to minimize human suffering, because we want to maximize human pleasure. If we are trying to change the current trajectory of our society, then we must have a vision for where our trajectory could take us. “If we do not think about how we want the world to look, others will do it for us”. To me, that vision is of a world where as many people as possible can feel whole and joyful.
To get there, we need to feel liberated from injustice. We need to liberate ourselves from any societal obstructions that restrict us from becoming the fullest versions of ourselves. “We are controlled by being fractured” - Audre Lorde. Our current system can control us by fragmenting us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to stand having human beings valued only by the labour they produce, or measuring success just by the number of zeros on our pay check. If we were able to meet our own needs, then we would not be easily controlled. When we are not whole, we are not able to meet our own needs. Wholeness is power. We have learned to be afraid of our own wholeness.
adrienne marry brown’s concept of Pleasure activism has been extremely important to me. I thought of my work at camp this summer through this lens. The work I was doing was joyful - I was constantly living, and was building myself as I was working to grow young independent humans. Every day was intense and joyful and meaningful. At camp, our culture is oriented towards joy. We work hard, but it’s not celebrated to miss a visit to the beach in order to finish writing a lesson plan. Living with youth is about living without reservations. When I thought back to my activism life at home, it felt so deflated in comparison. How much of the work I do is sitting in front of a screen. This is not full body joy - this is my brain and my fingers. I try and be aware of the expression on my face as I am working, and how often it is turned in a scowl. At camp we really value labour, and it feels more fulfilling and real than typing about the end of the world does.
Is this just me abusing my privilege? Me not wanting to work hard, not wanting to sacrifice? adrienne has taught me that I’m not sure we can build a just and liberated world through this sacrifice mindset. We should be working to feel more full. At camp, we were too immersed in the revolution to be able to sacrifice. We lived life large. We ate sleep and showered in our work for 2 months, and it was obvious that we couldn’t be our full selves if we were depriving any part of ourselves. Our primary way of making change at camp is how we are. We have a concept of dugma, or the example we are setting. We are constantly following the example of those above us and creating a precedent for those below us. In this environment, the way I could most create change was through becoming the wholest and best version of myself, through constantly thinking about what mattered to me and how I could embody that.