While I don’t have any quick fixes to offer, here are a few ideas that may have potential:
1. As within, so without. All change begins with me.
Recognize that who we are and what we stand for is the starting point for all significant change. Looking inside ourselves to clarify what is important is an essential step. What is our commitment to our children and grandchildren, to future generations and to other species with which we share the planet? How do we balance this commitment to the future with our present concerns and interests? What can we do to make our actions congruent with our intentions?
2. Build strong, authentic relationships.
There is power in numbers. Yet it is most often small committed groups that produce significant change. Wherever we are in the system, we always have the opportunity to reinforce and align ourselves with others—to collaborate, to support mutual efforts, and to realize synergies. In this regard, one of the most powerful approaches may be to promote intergenerational conversations so that people of all ages can come together to create a sustainable future.
3. Accept personal responsibility for the environment.
Being responsible for global warming and other environmental challenges is an important prerequisite to moving forward. Resistance that shows up as blaming others or picking fights is more likely to strengthen the denial and resolve of those who benefit most from the current situation. We need to be able to clearly acknowledge and own where we are before we can take the next step.
4. Create a better future.
Each of us has a voice and the power to declare possibilities and commitments. We create the future in our speaking and listening, inviting others to join in the process. To the extent that we speak from our hearts about the world we want to create, we will attract energy, resources and support—and inspire others to act.
5. Act with integrity.
We can influence those who occupy positions of power and influence by how we vote— whether it be by the ballots we check on election day, by the stores we frequent, by the investments we make, or by the company we choose. It is by taking actions like these and by making direct requests and promises based on clear intentions that change actually happens.
In the days leading up to the post-Kyoto talks in Copenhagen, we will be bombarded with media messages from politicians, commentators, interest groups, and environmental experts. I urge us all to listen for the assessments, possibilities and actions that are offered to deal with the defining challenge of our time. Whatever happens, we will all have a role to play in creating a sustainable future. Let’s make sure we do it well.