is “Think Global – Act Local” still viable?
Over the last few days three highly significant sets of meetings have been taking place: In Mexico, national political leaders decided to prop up various failed economies and conjured up unfathomably large sums of loot to try and ensure growth. In Brazil decisions were made along the same lines – with growth and capitalist expansion given higher priority than the environment and social justice. In Frome, we finalised plans and an application for £1m to help us become a “Sustainable Community”.
For some years I have tried, in small ways, to engage with the Global agenda. Primarily through designing and enabling Comic Relief’s climate change programme. This has worked to help some of the world’s poorest people to be less vulnerable to the changing climate that we (in the North) have caused. I’ve balanced this will engagement at a local level because I find it important to be grounded in real issues close to home. (Perversely, payment for the work in Africa effectively subsidises my unpaid work at home).
Until recently this has felt reasonably balanced – and personally deeply satisfying. But the events in Rio and Mexico have changed this. My generation of (national) political leaders have been bought by a small elite of the super-rich. The environment has been sacrificed to keep alive the terminally ill mantra of growth. We knew 20 years ago (at the first Rio conference) that drastic action had to be taken – and we’ve failed. Previous generations may have set in place much of the chaos which we are starting to see, but they did not know what they were doing. The people we elect know, and do nothing – so if one believes in democracy, responsibility lies with us.
Over the past few weeks I have spent many many hours discussing how best to support Frome to be more resilient in the face of change, and working with others to raise the funds to put some of these ideas in place. This feels increasingly like pissing in the wind. Indeed it feels almost worse, a distraction from what I should be doing – all of us should be doing – putting every moment we have into campaigning, protesting, fighting for a massive U turn: capitalism isn’t working. The fact that, for me, knowing this is not the same as doing, is the same disaster which is already affecting the planet and all its inhabitants. “Think Global – Act Local” is still viable option, but is it morally defensible?