It has recently re-occurred to me just how difficult the road ahead for us is going to be.  At times, it is so daunting that I get frustrated, and lose hope.  In brief moments of weakness, I wonder if I should have just taken a nice big $160,000 paycheck next year from a large corporate law firm, and enjoy the ride as our ship goes down.

But then, I think of all the people who are already suffering on this world, and how much that suffering is set to increase with runaway climatic disruption.  And I remember how I, as a person of privilege, have a responsibility to pay back all that this world has given me.  Yes, it’s frustrating.  Yes, it’s hard.  But if saving the world was going to be easy, someone would have saved it already. Change comes, but it takes time, and it takes persistent determination.

A friend recently passed along this quote to me from Noam Chomsky.  I thought it was worth passing along:

An interviewer with Noam Chomsky asked: “What do you say to someone reading this interview who says, ‘These are enormous problems. What can I as an individual do about them?'” (which is a question i think we all ask at some point).

His answer:
“There’s a lot we can do. We’re not going to be thrown into prison and face torture. We’re not going to be assassinated. We have enormous privilege and tremendous freedom. That means endless opportunities. After every talk I give in the U.S., people come up and say, “I want to change things. What can I do?” I never hear these questions from peasants in southern Colombia, Kurds in southeastern Turkey under miserable repression, campesinos in Nicaragua, or anybody who is suffering. They don’t ask what they can do; they tell you what they are doing. Somehow the fact of enormous privilege and freedom carries with it a sense of impotence…The fact is, we can do just about anything. There is no difficulty in finding and joining groups that are working hard on issues that concern you. But that’s not the answer that people want.

“The real question people have, I think, is ‘What can I do to bring about an end to these problems that will be quick and easy?’ People here are trained to believe that there are easy answers. I went to a demonstration, and nothing changed. Fifteen million people marched in the streets on Feb. 15, 2003, and still Bush went to war; it’s hopeless. But that’s not the way things work. If you want to make changes in the world, you’re going to have to be there day after day doing the boring, straightforward work of getting a couple of people interested in an issue, building a slightly bigger organization, carrying out the next move, experiencing frustration, and finally getting somewhere. You have to be dedicated and committed to it every day. That’s how the world changes. That’s how you get rid of slavery, that’s how you get women’s rights, that’s how you get the vote, that’s how you get protection for working people. Every gain you can point to came from that kind of effort–not from people going to one demonstration and dropping out when nothing happens…Unless you develop an ongoing, living, democratic culture that can compel the candidates, they’re not going to do the things you voted for…You want a magic key, so you can go back to watching television tomorrow? It doesn’t exist.”

We all know this, and we are all ready to put in the work needed so that we can tell our grandchildren about how we stopped burning the world so that they could enjoy a just and stable planet.  But it helps to be reminded:  we have come far, but we have a long ways to go.  But we will travel down that road together, and I can’t think of a group of people I’d rather journey with.
Onwards and upwards,