January 3, 2022

Healing our Climate Crisis depends on how we answer this Mother’s Question.

If this isn’t a wake up call for each one of us, what will it take?

1,000 homes lost, hundreds more damaged, a hotel, Target, a Costco—gone. A childhood friend, now a single mom, Zoe, got burned on 12% of her body trying to help evacuate someone in the Boulder County fires. We are so lucky that so many made it out safely, but it does sound like three dear humans are missing.

There’s always this balance in tragedy, when it strikes hard and breaks our hearts, and our reactions to that reality.

On the one hand: we see inaction on gun violence, and climate crisis. Keep your “thoughts and prayers,” if that’s all you got.

Keep your “Boulder Strong, Colorado Strong.” I get the sentiment—but we are vulnerable, not strong, as long as gun laws and partisanship and our climate crisis burns without urgent, commonsense collective response.

Saying “we’re strong” without making needed changes leading to these issues (violence, repeated, climate disasters, repeated) is not strength, it’s what some call “spiritual bypassing.” It’s PR.

If our prayers are just the beginning of our helping, as with Walnut Cafe, T/aco, Fed, Moxie, Cure Farm and 100s of other local restaurants [see list on Downtown Boulder] offering up food, the gofundmes, and 1,000s of individuals and shops donating supplies, clothes, or offering a room for a displaced family. When we participate in caring community, we manifest our inner goodness and remind one another that we can fix things, we are worthy of enjoying a sweet life on this blessed earth.

So we have to dive beneath the foaming rancor, posturing, and soapboxing that social media encourages. Then we can live with a real hope and optimism that is real.

What will it take for us to change?

If this isn’t a wake up call for each one of us, what will it take?

This will only get worse. Every child and good and kind human and animal on the planet depends on our actions this year, and the next 9 years. Change our daily habits, and work for macro changes, both.

So yes, it saddens me, this online conversation that “driving less” or “going zero waste” or “voting” or “going vegan” is useless, that only macro actions by “others” matter. That’s nihilism, passing-the-buck. It’s lazy.

Daily actions may be micro, but habits en masse become macro. That is how supply and demand works, how capitalism works, how voting in a democracy works.

Even 10 years ago, “fires in December” woulda seemed crazy. These mass shootings, these floods, freezes, fires, and droughts, mass death of coral in acidified oceans, and trees from bugs right when we need them most—are not isolated incidents. Connect the dots. They are the result of our inaction in the face of reality.

One-and-a-half-inches of rain and snow in 7 months, plus occasional high winds? We’re sitting ducks. And our climate will strike again and again, in different ways, unless we change.

We avoid caring, or spread misinformation, at our own peril and that of others we love. Look up. Serve the greater good, and our own communities. Boycott chains and Amazon, which leaches jobs and good pay out of local moms n’pops. Bike more, walk more, bus more. Vote. We need to turn these midterms overwhelmingly blue, or rather green (and red who are green, cheers). Equity is integral to this equation, as climate crisis hits communities of color, and the most vulnerable, first and hardest. Affordable housing matters, as housing ought to be, like health care, a right—and when we can live where we work, we don’t have to commute so much.

We can be right—but we also must listen. We can disagree, and must with trolls and bigots and the hateful—but we can also maintain our own kindness and decency.

So many people are saying “2021 was sh*t. Good riddance!”

But 2021 wasn’t just randomly awful. We let it be so, collectively, by not caring enough to change our daily micro and meaningful macro actions.
Want 2022 to be better? As a friend who’s a mom put it, speaking of our children: “what kind of world are we giving them?”

Our answer will determine not just how 2022 goes, but whether our children are safe.

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Waylon Lewis  |  Contribution: 1,463,075