Environment CollectiveOpinion

But first, hope must die- Laura Harland

By January 29, 2019 September 6th, 2019 No Comments
By Laura Harland
There is a saying about doors, we all know it, it goes something like this: “Sometimes we have to close a door for a new one to open”. I used to see the world through a lens that perhaps reflected my own personal experiences, that everything would be alright in the end. I recognise that this comes from a place of privilege; where I can make mistakes or go through adversity, and I can get another chance. I’ve always had a safety net to push me back up, pull me through. We’re constantly told the narrative, ‘if we just work hard and get a good degree, everything will be fine and we will have a comfortable life’. Facing the world we live in today, for me means facing this for what it is; for what it is, a monumental lie.
I used to go to protests and feel hopeful that politicians will listen to us if we just show them the community support or opposition to the particular issue, convey the facts and the circumstances logically, play nice and not be ‘too hard’ on them. It’s common sense right? If we convey the science, expert opinion and community opinion, they will listen to us. We have elected representatives to serve the needs of the people. They have a duty to us to ensure we have a safe liveable future, and therefore, we need to stop burning fossil fuels, respect indigenous land rights and sovereignty, commit mass public investment into renewables, and provide a just transition for people who will be affected by the change. Easy…. Apparently not. Call me bitter, but for someone who has been actively involved in the climate movement for years in different NGOs it’s hard not to be.
Hope first died in me (but only a little bit), after a long campaign in the QLD state election to stop public money going to the Adani mine. The Premier ruled out the public funding of the NAIF loan during the election campaign, and there was also the success of the campaign against some of the banks to rule out funding for the mine. Many of us naively thought this was the end of Adani. We were wrong, the stranglehold of mining corporations is just too strong over our political institutions and society.
I felt my body paralyse and a little part of the hope I was held whither one article after the other talking about current government decisions, the science, big fossil fuel corporations, money, special deals, extreme weather events, government inaction, violations of Indigenous land rights, denial, pollution, actions without consequences. 12. Years.
Fuck. Our arctic circle is on fire and permafrost melting.
I don’t want to alarm you, but Fuck.
Hope dies, but community keeps us strong. Fighting back keeps us sane. Through this shared sense of hopelessness, and an ultimate rejection of apathy, hope in a different form emerges. It’s the kind of hope you find when you watch a Christmas beetle stuck on its back in a pool, with its legs still kicking, or when you watch a friend shrug their shoulders with a half-smile after a sad attempt of making light of a bad situation. It’s not great, but we’ll take it.
This article began as a 3am scribble fest, with the thought of submitting it to the student magazine in mind, but not a clear idea of the message I wanted to pass on to fellow students. The main pointI want to convey now is that we are at a juncture, individually and collectively. The forces pulling us down are currently not in our favour, but there are counter forces in action;Swathes of young people are rising up, striking and using all the will they have to not be silenced; Mass civil disobedience is brewing and people are putting their bodies on the line to stop fossil fuel companies. I feel a resurgence of this new hope by committing myself to action over inaction. Again, when I see an Extinction Rebellion pin on a strangers chest, or in a crazed smile on a friends face that I know I am
mirroring right back at them when we crack a logistical question relating to some future protest. It’s the movement for climate justice in itself where hope lies because in all honesty the future is a big unknown and therefore something, in my opinion, not worth deliberating optimism or pessimism over. Right now, what matters most is getting active.
So down with apathy and down with nihilism!Our future is unknown, a false type of hope that many of us had in our institutions may be dead, but it’s about time people started taking on this issue incredibly personally, and decide: are you going to standstill, and shift the balance of the world towards irreversible climate change and ecological breakdown?
Or are you going to do absolutely everything you can to fight against the systems of oppression and corruption that have led us to this mess, and fight for the chance of a safe future?

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