What’s it Going to Be? Fight or Flight?
I learn a lot from social media.
The reactions to recent posts I’ve made have given me much to think about.
These include two horrifically compelling videos: (1) a fish full of ingested plastic; and (2) an emaciated Polar Bear.
These videos are included at the end of this blog. I hesitated to share them on social media because I know that at the heart of my “The Marine Detective” community, there are people as aware and motivated as I am. It’s not educating you really need.
You need confirmation of solutions and protection from despondency.
But I did share the videos and you’ll notice in my text on the posts (also below) that my decision to do so was because I believed they were powerful resources for others who may not yet fully “get it”.
I am very aware that it’s a delicate dance. To engage, connect, inspire and educate for the sake of more people undertaking positive action. Graphic imagery can help motivate but it can also lead people to disengage, succumb to eco-paralysis and eco-phobia; and/or disappear into the pit of despair.
It’s about fight or flight.
When faced with a threat that’s what we do*.
And climate change, plastics pollution, lack of security – these are threats.
There are many who flee (or freeze). It’s too much. They deny. They try for alternative explanations. They turn away. They shut down. They need to believe there is somewhere to flee to.
Then there are those who fight. Who become further motivated. Who become even more resolute in their actions and intentions.
What makes the difference? In the work I am compelled to do, I need to understand as best as I can.
What do the fighters need to keep fighting?
And what could motivate those who flee to turn around? To see the way forward?
Of course there are many variables at play but what has been further solidified for me as a result of these recent social media posts is that the difference between flight and fight can be . . . knowing its worth the fight.
We run from what is overwhelming, terrifying and what is perceived to diminish our quality of life.
We fight for what we know is right and are more inclined to do so when we know how to fight and who and what we are fighting.
Who and what are we fighting?
We are being manipulated by the consumer / disposable / fossil fuel paradigm to be fearful and to continue in the way that will ensure their continued power. We are to value acquisition above time and relationships. We are to equate success with stuff. We are meant to feel discontent and that with further purchasing, life will be enhanced. Not only does this paradigm thrive on fear, it grows fat on inequality (sexism, racism, etc).
How to fight?
Realize there’s so much potential for positive change when we remove fear and recognize there are common solutions to socio-environmental problems.
It’s not climate change vs. plastic pollution vs. poverty, etc.
It’s not life depreciating.
There is great gain in:
- Understanding our connectedness (through ecosystems and through our purchasing and voter behaviour).
- Valuing human ingenuity but not as an exit strategy and never without true precaution.
- Using less (less fossil fuels, less disposables, less harmful chemicals).
- Not being about perfectionism and absolutism and righteousness and bipolarity e.g. “environmentalist” vs. “resource user”.
- Working for equality. Empowering our fellow humans reduces poverty, violence and even overpopulation.
- Embracing our power to make positive change.
Really, it’s no surprise that empowered people are happier people.
To you, the fighters who have read this, I hope it has been of use to you.
To those who are inclined to flee, my understanding to you and respect that you have read this far. May this have a roll in your choosing to reject fear and embrace action that leads to greater happiness and purpose. We need you.
For me, the exercise of writing this has been affirming of the path forward.
Because we are even more inclined to fight when we better know how to win.
Text I posted with the following video: “I expect very few people here need further motivation to reduce plastic use but – maybe of use in your circles? Mahi mahi (fish) in Puerto Rico full of plastic. Of course, what we can’t see is the micro-particles of plastic that enter our food chain. Don’t be despondent. Be deliberate.”
Text I posted on Facebook regarding the following:
“I have waited with sharing this. Again, because I believe so many of us here “get it” and I do not want to contribute to eco-phobia and eco-paralysis. But also again, this is so compelling and powerful to be shared with those who do not YET get it. This is what a starving Polar Bear looks like. Is it a certainty that THIS Polar Bear is starving because of climate change? No. Is it a certainty that reduced sea ice makes it far more difficult for Polar Bears to hunt and that they will starve? Yes. And THIS is what a starving Polar Bear looks like. Gutting to watch.
Adds to my motivation to reduce carbon through my consumer and voter behaviour.
Don’t be despondent. Don’t turn away. Mobilize your sorrow and outrage. Reduce carbon footprints.”
For more detail please see CBC “As It Happens” information by clicking here. The article also addresses concerns about why the bear was not fed.
* What further catalyzed this blog is the podcast by Ashley Ahearn in which fight and flight are discussed as reactions to climate changes.
See “You probably have eco anxiety. You just don’t know it.”