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What we do

What we do to make the world a better place
So I have posted several questions in the discussion section of other articles.

My questions usually revolve around the effectiveness of our activities.

I think the environmental community(including myself)really needs to take a look at how we have been trying to stop the destruction.

Are our activities effective?

Lets ask ourselves some simple questions (it is usually at this point that people get mad at me and either stop talking to me or censor my posts). These questions are not aimed at motivation or sincerity, they are simply looking at how effective we have been.

Is there more or less CO2 in the atmosphere today, than there was 20 years ago? Or is the rate of added CO2 decreasing or increasing?

Are there more organisms going extinct now than there was 20 years ago?

Are there more people in prison now than there was 20 years ago?

These are not tough questions. We all know the answers.

So what does this tell us about how effective our activities have been? It is at this point that someone usually says "well, it is better than not doing anything at all." To this I would disagree, but my point is that we should do something, but we should make sure it is something that will be effective.


Let me take a moment to anger a bunch of people (I apologize).

Lets evaluate the Occupy movement. When this first started it was immensely motivating and it gave me hope and there is still value in what it did, but it reached a point where it needed to change and take the next step (I am not going to get into what that step should be).

But the problem with the Occupy movement is that it is mainly a symbolic occurrence. We need these symbols, but they have to led us to further action and Occupy only led to further Occupy.


Lets look at this from another perspective:

Would you rather have a "facebook" friend or a real friend?
Would you rather watch pornography or have sex?
If you were drowning, would you rather have everyone make a nice banner that lets you know how much they hope you make it to shore, or would you rather have them throw you a life ring?

Symbolism is only important if it leads us to take effective action. If your nice banner got someone else to swim out and save me, then great, congrats to you, but we have had decades of banners about the environment and yet the destruction has only gotten worse, faster and more thorough.


If I offended anyone I apologize, but it really is time to look at ourselves and ask "have we really made it better?"

Who is threatened by this? 05.Aug.2013 11:19

gob

Why are so many of the moderators threatened by my comments?

They repeatedly delete or never post them.

Goals 05.Aug.2013 19:40

Fidelity

I read through this and I totally agree with you: it's very important that activists stay critical of themselves and evaluate "success" and "failure" objectively.

The way I recommend doing this is to start out with clearly defined goals: if you're about to take an action, what is the goal?

If the goal can't be defined, or if the goal is some crap like "express our righteous indignation against the system", then you'll find yourself back at square zero, even further back than square one.

This is a primary reason I stopped working within the antiwar movement: the goal for me was really simple: end the war as soon as possible. Yet we constantly took actions that got us nowhere closer to the objective.

If you have a goal, and you fail to reach your goal, that's perfectly fine! Every failure is a learning experience, and you can still keep your goals and use them as a compass for your actions as an activist.

I don't want to discourage you, but I've often come across difficulty in collectivist movements to establish clearly defined goals. I was once at a meeting for 3 days (12 hours each day) just to define a major antiwar group's strategy. In the end we came up with about 5 points of unity, but nothing on the whiteboard of ideas ultimately reflected my main goal: ending the war. Instead we had a variety of short-term goals, a long term strategy and vision, and about fifty tactics. Point of fact: we're still at war and the short-term strategy failed after taking 3 times longer than initially expected. Anyways, I've found this to be true with most collectivist groups that I've come across, so I've just taken a completely alternate method of activism: you don't need to worry about changing the world for the better, it's important that you need to change yourself for the better. Remember the whole "be the change you want to see." Focus on goals that effect yourself, do not *ever* put your own goals into the hands of other people, or create a goal that is intended to change all of society. In my time in Portland I've met hundreds upon hundreds of activists, and only about 5% of them were really keen and accountable; i.e., you could trust them to get something done. Not surprisingly, this 5% comes together from time to time and it forms an overarching umbrella that organizes radical and awesome actions, and the reason they do this is because they cut out 90% of the people. It's just the failure of collectivism, that will seem more and more apparent as life continues on (or it won't, and I'm wrong).

Here's some examples of changing goals:
Instead of saying "our collective's goal is to abolish prisons", it would be wiser to say, "our collective's goal is to reduce the quantity of prisons in Oregon by 1 in the next 2 years." You can make a clearly defined strategy around one, but not the other.

However, I would recommend (and I think you'll find more happiness and success) if you instead say "My personal goal is to keep 50 people out of prison in the next 2 years, and show support for 100 people incarcerated each year."

Which of the 3 goals are you likely to succeed at? Obviously you won't end prisons with the 3rd option, but it's much easier for you to accomplish this goal and make a hugely positive difference than it is for you to accomplish the other 2. Plus, if people became inspired by the 3rd option, and people followed in your footsteps, then the change created becomes enormous. Just something to chew on...

You shouldn't ever apologize for being critical of something. That's what makes everything better, and we're all long overdue for a frank look at the actions we've been taking. Only the most narcissistic people respond harshly to genuine criticism, honest people appreciate it because it is so rare.