Run up to Paris

At Beijing+20. The card says ‘No Limits for Girls’.

I am off to Paris with a sub-organisation of Re-evaluation Counseling, a project called ‘Sustaining All Life’  I’ve done this sort of thing before. Back in 1995 I went to Beijing with ‘No Limits for Women’, which ran workshops back in at the NGO Forum alongside the UN Conference on Women.  I was part of our ‘United to End Racism’ delegation to the World Peace Forum in Vancouver. Since then, No Limits for Women has run workshops at the Beijing+20 meeting in New York.



If you want to get an idea of the sort of workshops we offer, look at this video

This time, in Dec 2015,  I’m going to the Paris COP21 talks, as a helper, a volunteer, for  ‘Sustaining All Life‘.

Help! My arthritic knee is playing up. I’m scared of climate change. I’d rather not think about it. It all sounds even worse in French. I’m not that happy about going to Paris where there have just been horrific attacks, though as a British person I don’t want to admit that. (Keep calm and carry on.) Still, I notice I am planning letters to my grandchildren in case I cop it. I’m scared of ordinary things – making mistakes in French. Being bored. Not being able to do what I’m asked to do. Getting told off. Missing the train. Losing my ticket. Lying sleepless in the eco-hostel… you name it, I’m probably scared of it.

It’s like a race, and I’m somewhere near the back, one of those old panting ones. Scared stiff. But at least my eyes are still open. Sort of open – squinting against the harsh light of reality. A screen of eyelashes. Not enough.

Planning for Failure

The seasoned activists are already planning for  the failure of the talks. Enough official hints have been dropped that the two degrees goal is unreachable. Historical conflicts and bitterness run too deep. Corporations are too powerful. Government representatives are already talking, and the politicians will just come together to put gloss on the cake of fudge. No, this isn’t going to be the moment of unity, when our countries realise they have interests in common, such as human survival. If that moment ever comes, it will be when we are all lying on our backs like dead beetles. (And the beetles will have a field day, being so much better adapted to global warming than we are.) So the seasoned activists are planning direct action in Paris and elsewhere on the 12th December, to say ‘We’re not taking this’.

Foolish hope?

The hopeful are planning for the march on the 29th November, the beginning, the moment of hope. I’m going to be there, with ‘Sustaining All Life’, child of Re-evaluation Counselling (co-counselling). As long as my arthritic knee allows it, I’m going to be chanting and singing (quietly, because I can’t carry a tune), tossing a beachball printed with the map of the globe to each other – ‘We’ve got the whole world In our hands’. It’ll be hopeful, like the moment at the start of your life when you cried, you stated your need for love, closeness, food, you expected someone to be there, an
d sometimes they were.

We all had a moment like that, then many things happened that left us feeling defeated, and all that backlog of early defeat is weighing us down and stopping us using our full intelligence. We’ve been left feeling as if defeat is the human condition, and a better way of being is impossible. ‘There is no alternative.’ We are doomed, etc, so let’s get on with our comfortable lives, if we have them. But we’re wrong. Better things are possible. Societies without oppression and inequality can be built. We are intelligent enough to design them and build them. I believe that.

Capitalism isn’t natural

When I listen to people on the radio talking as if the capitalist market were a force of nature, I think they’re like dog owners who can’t control their dogs. ‘He will poop everywhere, of course, the dear fellow. Such nice fur. He makes me go to the kids’ sandpit, but I’ve found if I tweak the lead like this, he only poops on the edge of it, so that’s not so bad. He’s got to do his poop.’ NO HE HASN’T! NOT IN A SANDPIT! IF HE’S A COMPULSIVE POLLUTER SORT OF DOG, PUT HIM DOWN!

Nothing against dogs, folks. In their place. Just capitalism.

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