Chopping down Denial: A Call for Spiritual People
350.org’s intention to transition to 100% renewable energy, as soon as possible, is surely a big new idea and reminds us of the New Deal. This Green New Deal is as daunting as it is daring. It is as scary as it is sacred. When something really bad is happening, like the new reports that show how accelerated climate change really is, a small response is pitiful. It is actually a process in deep denial. What spiritual people can do most and best right now is to help people start the process of stopping the denial. That is indeed a small step by step process. But it is more in our wheel house than making the scientific arguments. (Even though the strong decreases in the price for solar and wind energy help 350.org’s scientific argument along.)
It is a paradox that we must do such small things, like stopping denial, in order to do big things. We must slow down in order to go fast. Pico Ayer calls it the urgency of slowing down. The paradox is that we have to operate spiritually and practically at the same time. We have to add spiritual capacity to our physical capacities.
Denial breaks in the same way that we chop down a dead tree. We do it hit by hit, ax by ax, thrust by thrust. We also do it by resting in between our motions. We’re not really letting the tree rest. The tree has already died, and we are taking it down. Climate deniers need help in understanding the immensity of the crisis. Many climate believers also need help. We live in reality some of the time but not all of the time. Helping people pray–for their own properties and safety and for the same for those in Indonesia, where stealth tsunamis have devastated–is a form of relief from denial. Yes, relief from denial. Denial is dangerous to us. We won’t do what we can to save ourselves or each other without moving into that energy filled place called reality. It takes enormous energy to maintain denial. If people don’t want to pray for relief from their denial, then they can meditate their way towards it.
Like a tree that is already dead, denial is easy to “take down.” It often happens quite suddenly, if enough preparation has been done.
Sometimes I encourage a domestic denial. In this prayer/meditation/action, we remove something from our house every day that we don’t need. Or we clean it and use it. We are de hoarding. We are opening space. We are letting our past go–and the way we cling to its realities. We probably loved the old ways. But we can’t afford to keep on loving them.
Our goal is to move out of climate denial into climate action. It is a long road, and it is urgent that we get on it.