Monday, March 31, 2014

Twelve thoughts on the Climate Rapture and waiting for people to get it

1. If you spend time on the internet talking to people who are unlike you - and don't, they're all awful - eventually someone will tell you 'you just don't get it' regarding some contentious issue.

2. I have decided that this is code for 'You don't automatically agree with me and I can't be bothered explaining myself to someone who doesn't'.

3. I know the feeling, but it's kind of a pity when it happens. Some chance to learn something got cut short, because I wasn't enough like the person I was interacting with. But if I was too like them, neither of us would've learned anything much anyway, would we? We'd more likely have just cheered each other on in our prejudices.

4. This point is just a warning that point number 5 is going to be about climate change. This is your cue - if you want it - to go and do something else instead because fuck actually having a conversation about climate change amiright? Of course I'm right. See you next time!

5. Still here? Cool. Actually I lied, this one is about gun violence. Every so often there is horrible gun violence in the US. Each time it happens people like me think, "Surely this time people will get it! Surely they'll wake up, where 'wake up' is also code for 'agree with me without me needing to explain myself'?"

6. Reader: it never happens. Maybe it did once but even if it did the world doesn't work that way any more. What happens instead is that the event gets worked into the stories we tell ourselves about the world. People with different stories from me don't tend to suddenly drop those stories and adopt mine on the basis of a new event; instead the event gets incorporated into those stories and indeed there are whole industries devoted to that intellectual task.

7. For an example of how well all this works, every time there's a riot in a detention centre there are people on the right hoping that this time you'll 'get it', and realise we shouldn't be letting asylum seekers anywhere near our country. Do you? Probably not, if we're friends. Perhaps like me you see things like that as the outcome of locking people up in hot places and dehumanising them and waiting to see who will crack first.

8. And so well but I can't help but notice that the same kind of wishful thinking pervades the way some of us talk about climate change. i.e., some disaster will come along and then surely people will 'get it'. They will magically start agreeing with us. Maybe they'll even apologise for being such dicks about it lo! these many years. Maybe Andrew Bolt will drop his trousers in the public square and bend over and let us all smack his fleshy Dutch arse with the dead bodies of the hundred thousand fruitbats which fell from the sky a few months back.

9. The moment we're waiting for is kind of like the Rapture, for environmentalists - the moment everyone realises we were right about the giant invisible thing in the sky we could see and they couldn't and which will now punish them for their wickedness. Except we don't get to go to heaven when that happens, we just get the satisfaction of being right while everyone suffers. Perhaps they'll install us as rulers of the world's corpse at that point? Now there's something to look forward to.

10. This desire - that the facts will speak for themselves, will step out like Marshall McLuhan in the lobby scene in Annie Hall and vindicate us and everyone will realise we were right and they were wrong - is based on a mistake, which is the idea that facts ever speak for themselves. Facts don't have mouths: FACT. They can't type either: FACT.

11. "OKOKOK so what do we do smartarse?" say you and me I say "I'm glad you asked! I think people do get it sometimes, but almost never without someone doing something. The flaw in the plan is hoping it'll happen without you having to do anything about it. That's magical thinking. If you want people to be persuaded, you may have to help do the persuading. And if you are no good at it, but you think it needs to be done anyway and that magic won't do it, you may have to learn."

12. Oh and don't get me wrong: I'd still like the Rapture to happen. I mean, I'll look pretty silly for having kept this pile of dead fruitbats if it doesn't. X


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