As this past YEA! MN network meeting drew to a close, I realized that perhaps the most effective tool we have on our side during the climate fight is an unlikely one: our humanity.
It’s obvious that the climate fight has become incredibly polarized, with people on either side often taking a hostile attitude towards their opponents. I admit I am guilty of the same thing: I offer no concessions to the anti-environmental movement and I have little patience for people who question my facts and logic. Like me, our entire nation is in a deadlock over this pertinent issue of our time. Each side denies the beliefs of the other. I used to think that the only way to push through this deadlock was to force real science and facts onto my opponents until they began to see the truth. After the last YEA! MN network meeting, I realize this is clearly not the only effective way to approach environmental action.
At the meeting, we talked about organizing change, but in an unconventional way. Instead of focusing on the science of climate change and the facts surrounding the environmental movement, which we all know to be true, we focused on the human aspect of the climate fight. What the climate fight really boils down to is a disconnection between two mindsets, and what we discussed the other night is how to sync up these mindsets and help people become more receptive to the truth about the environment.
During the meeting, we learned how to better connect with each other on an emotional level through some fun games but also some serious discussion. Since forging an emotional connection fosters understanding and openness, it is key to the environmental movement. I realized we have to be able to build these connections within our movement and among our opponents as well in order to move past this deadlock that’s been created. Recognizing each other’s humanity is the first step towards being able to see each other’s position and find a solution we can all support.
As the night wrapped up, it dawned on me that this was probably one of the last, but most valuable lessons I’ll learn from YEA! MN. The idea of forgetting the facts and remembering our shared humanity shouldn’t be anything revolutionary, but it kind of is. All I know is that, as the year winds down, I am incredibly grateful for not just this lesson, but all of the lessons I’ve learned through this amazing program this past year. I’ll remember the inspiring people I’ve met and the valuable things I’ve been taught as I embark on my next steps in the environmental movement. I can’t wait to I can carry my newfound YEA! MN wisdom into a bigger world!