The weeks leading up to Christmas 2019 saw Australia on Fire. There were bushfires in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. A map of the fires looked like the whole country was on fire. An early fire season coupled with a major drought had laid the foundations for the fires. It was something that had never been seen before. Unprecedented and a symptom of rapid climate change.
The response from the government was dismissive, lacking leadership. Blame was laid at the feet of arsonists and even composting manure but, to date, no real leaderships actions have been undertaken. Any actions have been the result of political and media pressure.
For the half century governments throughout the western world have been educating us that without assistance communities can do nothing by themselves. We apparently need services and government support to achieve anything. At times it feels we have services upon services without any discernible change or improvement in our social lives. This type of socialisation process has left us feeling that we cannot act or achieve any positive change without government support. It puts us in a deficiency mindset where we eventually view ourselves as deficient. Whereas the only lasting change or improvement comes when communities activate their own strengths and assets. Change always comes from below.
However, the deficit mindset is one so easy to fall into. I found myself in this position just before Christmas. Watching the country in crisis with no government leadership and the prospect of climate change impacting on the future of our children left me with a sense of despair. A colleague reminded me that the answer is always Community. She was right. It is often not the major actions of government that create change but the small changes and actions undertaken by individuals and communities that have the greatest impact leading to lasting change.
This is what we can activate to fight climate change ie the small and often quirky actions that have ongoing impact.
Rosa Parks was not a powerful person. Although involved in activism she made her money as a seamstress in a department store. But her action of refusing to give her seat to a white person on a bus in Alabama led to great social change in the USA.
At this time of the year those of religious Christian belief reflect on the birth of Jesus. The son of a carpenter, an obscure itinerant preacher. On the surface a man who would not add up to much. But most of the last 2 millenia have been impacted by his life. Likewise, the actions of another obscure man, Martin Luther led to the reformation of the Christian church. A small action, nailing his complaint on a church door.
It’s those small actions that matter and when we, as a community, work together on these small actions nothing can stop us, even climate change and reluctant governments.