400: ARE WE FIGHTING A LOSING BATTLE?

“Embrace Jesus, Forget Christ, God? – what god?”

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed’s 400th Post! If you’ve been with it since the beginning, 2 years ago, you’ll remember that I was confused about Christianity, it’s relevance, its real meaning, its historical authenticity. Well, now I can report that I am still confused but at a deeper level! Theology is a bloody complicated business!

One thing most people are agreed on is the need for change in society. I yearn for a post capitalist era where there’s bags of liberté, egalité and fraternité. Christians may wish for the advent of the kingdom of God, even though they are not necessarily clear about what that entails in detail. And conservationists/greens may wish for a society that respected the environment instead of treating it like an infinite source of raw materials.

According to Marx, it’s all summed up in one word: struggle.

Publishing 2 Green Party pieces this week has made me think about the futility of protest and struggle. How can Greens keep their morale up when all around them is deforestation, increased burning of fossil fuels, etc, etc.? Are we all, in our different arenas: green/religious/political, fighting a losing battle?

Here’s a word from Simon Barnes writing in the RSPB magazine Birds. It’s an excellent mag; I used to read it at my late mother’s; she was a subscriber. Now I only see it in my dentist’s waiting room. I’m putting it out here because it has relevance to all of us whatever the arena we have chosen to struggle in.
In solidarity,
Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

Are we fighting a losing battle?
by Simon Barnes
(edited by Peter Turner)

We know that conservation is the right side: therefore, we must do our bit. The question of whether or not conservation wins in the end is beyond our scope. You may think ‘What’s the point: the conservation movement has been going on for a century and we still haven’t saved the world.’ Sometimes we seem farther away than ever. Again and again you will read that this bird, that place will be lost unless something is done and soon.

Is there no end to it?

Well, since you ask, No. Conservation is like painting the Forth Bridge, is at best a never-ending task. A more pessimistic viewpoint says that it is like cleaning the decks of the Titanic with buckets and mops. Some great advances have been made over the years: but it seems that for every 5 paces we go forward we go 6 paces back. Bing! Even as I write, an RSPB press release lands on my desk: ‘Bioenergy could do more harm than good.’ Is nothing easy? Is nothing straightforward?

Sometimes it seems that pessimism is the only rational standpoint: we’re all doomed as private Frazer used to say in Dad’s Army. While pessimism is both crushingly negative and infuriatingly smug, optimism is harder and harder to sustain.

But there is a third way.

We fight on, we fight as we have never fought before. We fight even though we might be on the losing side. That is because it is far more important to be on the right side than it is to be on the winning side. That’s the real point of the struggle. This was a realisation that came to me, with slow but glorious inevitability. I recalled a conversation with John Burton, the CEO of the World Land Trust, a charity that buys up chunks of endangered habitat. Somebody asked him what was the point: “You’ll never be able to buy up all the endangered habitat in the world. You’ll never buy up even all the rainforest. It’s hopeless.” And John Burton gave a maniacal laugh and said “I know!”

It was the beginning of an enlightenment. The World Land Trust won’t buy up all the world’s endangered places, but that’s no reason not to try. In the long term we may not be able to save all the tigers or albatrosses, but we can do our best to prolong their existence. We may not be able to save the world: but the very best thing we can do in our lives is to try.

It is time to move beyond optimism; beyond pessimism. Instead armed with the certainty that we are on the right side, let us continue the glorious struggle; and keep as many glorious creatures and glorious places alive for as long as we possibly can.

Source:
‘Birds’, magazine of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, January 2008, p.23

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Visions of Change #10: UK Green Party
Visions of Change #10B: UK Greens part 2

[400,i&l, t&c]

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