Thoughts on Systems Change

Writing can be so much like exercising.  I used to keep my mind sharp through intervals of reading, writing, then reading and writing again.  When you’re fit to write, it can be uplifting.  When you haven’t been writing for the fun of it, it becomes quickly laborious.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book.  In starting a manuscript, I find myself incredibly intimidated by the process.  But I’m also looking towards a thesis in my Masters program and the possibility of a PhD in the future.  It’s making me consider the ways I hope to use writing and art to communicate, and how that might intersect with my research into environmental issues, indigenous rights, politics, and the general intersectionality that sits right in front of us but which not everyone prioritizes to analyze, thereby perpetuating the very frameworks and systems we are allegedly fighting to dismantle.

I’m investigating the theory of shock doctrines, power, and how liberal movements unintentionally buy into the very chaos they are reacting to.  It’s a challenge I’m glad to take on, although I have severe doubts the article I write will help me win a trip to the climate negotiations I’m attempting to compete for.

Sitting and thinking about history, time, space, and how none of those aforementioned concepts are tangible or possibly exist at all.  I began to wonder how this world perseveres at all.  I also wondered, had I designed the world, would I have thought to make clouds?  Fluffy, alien bodies of mist that float just the right distance away – and closer than we think – until the moment they condense and preserve life.

What if one day the clouds fell from the sky?

So much talk about biopolitics and bioengineering… conversations of Neoliberalism and Foucalt… restorative justice and learning from ancestors… Yet we speak in these terms and concepts so elevated that our language is beyond reach for those impacted the most, those with the solutions we could actually implement.  The research feels sterile, especially when you consider the numerous communities who understand the concepts of power and the impacts of co-opted systems but whose way of communicating them may be completely incompatible.

Maybe the clouds won’t fall out of the sky, but the air will thicken with smog and then that might as well be the same thing.  And, as we continue to criticize the problems right in front of our face, we will continually fall victim to the systemic chaos that cripples any effort for restorative justice.  It truly is an accurate saying: Systems Change, Not Climate Change.  And, as Naomi Klein puts it, it’s not a transition – it’s a “Corporate Coup”.

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