Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Courage. Do what needs to be done and let go of the results.

Excerpt from Lessons Learned by Sharon Astyk
Many of the people I meet do this dance [speaking at conferences] 50 or 100 or 150 times a year – they are constantly on trains, planes and automobiles, enduring the exhaustion of travel, the rush of doing something important presumably compensating for the physical price. I admire what they do, even though I can’t emulate it. Most of them are driven by the fact that their work matters – and it does. But they also know that most people will say “great talk, really interesting” and go home and live their lives much as they did before. And they will get on a plane and play Cassandra again tomorrow in a different city, or at home in another article, or another paper – and most people won’t listen.

So after the conference, we talk about what it is like – what it is like to imagine things most people don’t want to imagine, or look at numbers that no one else wants to hear. What it is like to try and get funding for research that shows this, or to make governments pay attention. What it is like to be dismissed or reviled. What it is like to do all you can bear, and know that it almost certainly isn’t enough to preserve what you want most to preserve.

But what I never hear – and I think I would – is that it isn’t worth doing the work – spreading the word, working for change, trying to make things better. You’d think that you would hear that – that people who express profound doubt in the efficacy of their measures – or at least whether they will be enough – would consider stopping. But they never do.

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