Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is an English professor, a freelance writer and the author/publisher of sustainablog.
In October, 2004, two environmental activists, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger, published an essay, “The Death of Environmentalism,” garnering national media attention and prompting much reflection within the environmental movement. In May, 2005, a group of nine writers published another essay, “The Soul of Environmentalism.” After considerable notice on the web, “Soul” quietly disappeared from the blogs and from environmental discussions.
Despite the latter essay’s inability to generate the same level of debate as “The Death of Environmentalism,” I’d argue that the vision “Soul” presents is more compelling and worldchanging. As I re-read both documents, I noticed a distinct difference: while both call for reaching across self-imposed boundaries, “Death” defines progress as victories within US national politics. “Soul,” however, reaches into deeper territories of civil and human rights, local and national community, and ultimately the moral sphere that progressive politicians have struggled with since last November’s defeat. “Death” discusses winning; “Soul” focuses on inspiring. With the current political leadership in the US, different political strategies will produce limited progress towards sustainable development. If we choose to think big and act on smaller stages, though (you know, “Think Globally, Act Locally”), we may just find that engaging with (and listening to) communities outside our own, and reconnecting with the values of civil rights, human dignity, and equality for all, provide the foundation for a political coalition needed to challenge the greed and apathy so prevalent in our national discourse.
Bravo, Jamais. An outstanding insight - thank you!
David, Jeff Strasburg from Sustainablog wrote this one -- I'll fix the posted by link to make that slightly less ambiguous.
David -- thank you, and thank you, Jamais, for inviting me to contribute.
For years I've been frustrated with activist communities that focus on legislation and the media rather than building a unifying vision of a possible future that we can LIVE. Without a unifying vision there is no movement.
Inspiration, yes; and then comes the perspiration.