I say I hate meetings, but I seem to spend a lot of time at them and prioritise them in my diary. I suspect that’s because I secretly like them. There’s something about being on a committee that makes me feel important. I like being with people, too, especially if they’re my friend or if they’re important, or both. Some decisions are important and have an impact, especially if someone acts on them. My confession is that, more often than should be, that someone is not me.
I think I need to balance the talking with more action. That’s not to say I don’t do anything already. In fact, Mrs Mabbsonsea and I think hard about how we live and have taken quite a lot of steps over the years to live less destructively and more creatively. But I am becoming conscious of how often I make excuses (probably there’s a meeting I have to go to) and how little I dirty my hands. And I want to change.
Last Friday I went on my first student demo. I’m 50 years old and have never been on a student demo. It was part of the global day of action for fossil-fuel divestment. I was tempted to say, it’s my first day off in 2 weeks, I’m tired, I’ve got lots of little jobs to do in the house, blah blah. But I want to change and become a man of action – a man with dirty hands – and so I went to Sussex University and helped make a web of red ribbons across the square for the red lines (like 1.5C temperature rise) we mustn’t cross but that we will cross if we keep giving financial support to the fossil-fuel industry, and I joined in with the chanting and talked to some people about what was going on and then helped take it all down again and went home.
OK – it wasn’t much of an action and while it was the first student demo I’d been on, it certainly wasn’t the first demo of any kind, not by a long way. But what changed was that I ignored some perfectly legitimate excuses and went. I have another idea for this Friday, and the excuses are limbering up. I was wondering last week what I would do for Lent this year, and perhaps this is it – a kind of anti-Lent – to counter the excuses that tempt me to do nothing with the self-disciplined choice to act.
3 thoughts on “Climate Action”
Not meaning to shoot your resolve here, but 🙂 meetings are important, actually they are fundamental – IF they translate to real change on the ground. Because to solve problems (or to escalate the solutions) you often need to go upstream, where meetings are essential.
If you want to clear the plastics from your local beach, get a group together and organize a cleanup – or even, just go it alone. It’s a beautiful thing, full of meaning and immediate benefits. Now if you want to keep several beaches clean, you need to set up a hierarchy and organize meetings to coordinate the different cleanup teams. Nothing wrong with that. Or, if you want to make less plastics appear on your beach, that may lead you to talk to your local fisherfolk, meet with your local council, meet with other no-plastic campaigners on a larger scale, and so on. That’s a good way to go, too. No real ‘work’ is done on the meeting, but it may make things better in a way that hands-on cannot.
However, meetings can and do get in the way of real work, as you know. You present several bad reasons for being at a meeting, so you’re on the right track to avoid them. 🙂 I always judge the meeting for their practical results: will it be make a bigger change than being out there doing the actual work? One usually doesn’t know, but have to take guesses. Does the meeting have a clear agenda? Is it as short as it could be? Some have resorted to stand-up meetings – I mean no one should be sitting if it’s supposed to take 15 minutes or less. How good is the person who’ll be chairing it? Do they let people say the essential things but move the meeting along nicely?
I find that I’ll drift into too many meetings if I overcommit to too many issues. There’s only one of me, and too many good things to get involved in. Six years ago I went through a painful process of cutting down on the types of commitments I had. I chose to prioritize local nature conservation (and all of its ramifications) over everything else that I was doing, all were very important work but let’s face it, I couldn’t handle all that. I’m a little sorry for not having seen people pick up the things I had to leave behind, but that’s really out of my capacity – which is a hard thing for a male to say!
So if it means choosing between saving the NHS or child abuse or climate action or public domain texts, etc. etc. for you, I’d say just pick one and go with it. Do some thing, not many things. Precisely because everything matters, you will focus on one thing and do it as well as you can. Doesn’t mean you cannot support the other things financially, but in terms of your time it helps to be focused. And all the best as you cut down on those meetings and do real work in the real world.
…Not that you asked for any advice! Feel free to ignore any of that, of course.
Thanks for commenting. It’s good advice about focussing on one or two things to do well. Yes, I agree that meetings can be important & can mobilise/facilitate action. I think I wasn’t so much critiquing meetings as much as my use of them as a screen to excuse my inaction. As a minister, my role tends to focus on inspiring, supporting, resourcing the actions of others – and that’s a vital role to play, but I’m feeling an integrity gap. I think I am on a spiritual journey at the moment to get out of the books & the thinking & talking and get my hands dirty a bit more. I’ve been inspired by a poem by Alan Horner, where he says “You cannot live on the map, only on the land” – I want to feel the wind and smell the peat and hear the curlew & be more immersed & connected … but I realise I’m drifting into a bigger topic & perhaps another blog post.
I tend to like meetings, too, and I LOVE the people at meetings who volunteer to follow up and accomplish something before the next meeting and then ACTUALLY DO IT. Hurrah for attending a day of protest and consciousness-raising regarding climate change and fossil fuels. We have gone from sub-zero (fahrenheit) temperatures with significant additional wind chill to a blustery, melting, rainy 50 degree (fahrenheit) day within the past 48 hours here in Boston…