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 takes a lot of energy. Being able to stay in the moment when it constantly tells you in no uncertain terms, that it does not value your way of working and being is exhausting. Despite the talk about the need for change, and equity, and justice, instead, in this time of urgency, I see some leaning into to the old ways of working. It is exahusting and frustrating. 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.
Caring for the planet must be done within this way of working.
Even though it is this way of working precisely that has left us with a planet exploited, devalued, depleted. Even though it is this way of working precisely that has left us with giant areas of disparity, inequaliative, disconnectedness, despair.
I have lost that loving feeling.
Climate change work is deep cultural change work. If we’re not doing that, I can’t keep counting GHGs (greenhouse gas emissions) while showing up at work pretending not to be a whole person.
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