In the last day or so, I’ve read a couple of things that have got me thinking. Just little phrases, no more than snippets of a bigger idea, that have been churning around in my brain ever since. They’ve started a train of thought. And I think they’re worth sharing.
The first came from Twitter. (Improbable, I know, but these things do happen.) In response to something someone else had tweeted, biologist David A. Steen (whom I started to follow when he live-tweeted, of all things, the evacuation of a marine aquarium that lay in the path of a hurricane) responded “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
I’ve seen this notion expressed in a similar way before, but I’d never really stopped to think about it. But it may well be true, at least for some people. And it may also help to explain why those in positions of power tend to resist any challenge to the status quo.
The second thing I came across was an article in the New Statesman by Hettie O’Brien, in which she asks – very eloquently and with a good deal of insight – why climate sceptics appear to be disproportionately male.
Towards the end of the article (which is well worth a read), she identifies – following a train of thought started by historian Carolyn Merchant in the 1970s – that the industrial revolution led to the subordination of the environment (and, Merchant argues, women) to the needs of a male-dominated social and economic hierarchy.
The results of this mentality have, O’Brien says, been devastating. We need to accept the reality of the ongoing environmental crisis and to make the personal, political and industrial changes that will allow us to combat it. But this is most difficult, she concludes, for those whom the old/current order of things have benefited the most.
There will always be those who oppose change. But rather than simply vilifying such individuals, we need to understand why they feel the way they do. And these two ideas, noticed fleetingly as I went about my day, go a long way to helping us to achieve that.