It would be easiest to choose resignation. I can feel it in myself some days. The woman is luckier than now, entertaining her angst. How do we let ourselves imagine any future without being overpowered by despair or Manipulated by hope? I am trying not to self-Soothe in the ways Millennials do best: reflexively tempering my faith in the future with irony and fatalism. Optimism, after all, might be a luxury good – hope is Harder to find when you are trying to protect your family from fire or flood – but resignation, too, can be an indulgence, enjoyed by the luckiest.
So, what comes after the guilt?
This month, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley won an appeal against eight teenagers and an octogenarian nun who had successfully made a case that she had a duty of care to protect young people from the climate crisis when assessing fossil fuel developments. Outside the court, one of the teenagers expressed her anger.
“It will not deter us in our fight for a safe future,” she said.
During Black Summer, which killed nine people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes, a photo emerged of the Prime Minister on holiday in Hawaii. People were angry. His left hand made the Shaka sign – Hang Loose, chill out, no worries, mate – while his right hand locked into a firm shake with a grinning tourist. He would later offer that same hand to an exhausted firefighter who had just lost his house to flames. “I don’t really want to shake your hand,” the man said.
When quizzed about the holiday, Morrison said he wasn’t going to give in to people who wanted more climate action. “The urge to panic … is not something I’m ever intimidated by or distracted by.”
When Greta Thunberg said she wanted people to feel the fear she felt every day and to act as if their house was on fire – “because it is” – she was not Addressing you or I. This is not to say we shouldn’t try to live Sustainably. It is to say that she was standing in anger before the business and political elite gathered in the Swiss Alps.
In the anxiety of considering Parenthood in a changing climate, anger feels like the necessary bridge between delusion and defeat. Unlike contrition, which folds us into ourselves, seeking Redemption in a handful of consumer choices, anger has an object, another to be held accountable.
The Most Important Job in the World by Gina Rushton (Pan Macmillan, RRP $ 34.99) is out on March 29.
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