I’ve lost that loving feeling and it’s gone, gone. woah woah woah…
But somehow it’s much less romantic and much more violently heartbreaking. You see – I’ve been working in the world of climate policy in a government institutition and this week I finally hit rock bottom after months, and years of fighting the systems change, culture change fight. I’m tired, I’m exhausted and I’m utterly depleted because I am a human and I have been asked to operate in a system devoid of emotion, devoid of consideration for how people are very much part of the equation for environmental sustainability, both as people doing the work, and as people impacted by the work.
We live in a patriarchy and the patriarchy is alive and strong. In the world of climate action where we’re trying to make the changes needed to happen, the way the decisions are made, the way the problem is approached is steeped in patriarchial worldviews.
‘This is not a culture problem. This is a mathematical, technological, regulatory and organizational problem. If only we can get enough of a carbon tax happening, if only we can get the regulatory regimes in place and accelerate compliance with some incentives to get people doing what we want. Then we will save the planet! We will lower emissions and all will be great in the world!’
Unfortunately people are humans and we don’t operate in a linear way. You don’t just get compliance because of incentives. There is a complex network of emotions, behaviors, values, and choices within a human that make it difficult to predict what people will do. We aren’t just one-dimensional beings you can convince to do something because ‘for the greater good’ or even ‘because it aligns with your values’. We do not exist as mathematical equations with neat and tidy answers to solve for.
We are also not robots, able to put aside or separate our inner soul’s needs, when the work we are doing feels increasing unaligned. I care about the planet, I care about ensuring a sustainable and healthy environment for my kids’ future and their kids’ futures. But I can’t do it at the expense of my soul. Fostering change and creating a sustainable future in a way that ignores the cultural context we also need to shift and the cultural narratives that continue to cause harm has become too alien for me. I have lost that loving feeling with the work I have been doing and I’m heartbroken.
Mostly because fighting the patriarchy has been something I’ve been aware of and have had energy for, for a very long time, but when the patriarchy finally tells me in no uncertain terms that it does not value my way of working and just seems hell bent on continuing to work in the same way that it ever has, despite talk of change and especially in this time of urgency, I feel utterly defeated, like my heart has been crushed up and put through a grinder.
Your way of working does not fit here. Conform or be rejected.
Even in caring for the planet you need to conform or be rejected.
But I know otherwise. I know there are hundreds of other soulful, alive people, not robots, who sense the wholeness they are and are working to reclaim it. I know there are others who are ready to live in their aliveness, who are ready to change the cultural narrative and with it our relationships to each other and to the earth. I sense our interconnectedness and I can no longer operate in a place that does not honor being whole. I have lost that loving feeling, but that’s okay because i have a whole lot of love for myself and for my other whole-hearted people who I know will change the world too. xo