A trauma victim, survivor, and life coach pleads: don’t cave in to the pressures of self-interested citizens or corporations; instead, choose life, take action, and save the world
After taking a stroll in Central Park on a perfect summer’s day, I was returning home to my pre-war classic co-op on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Then, quite unexpectedly, I was informed that my wife had been bludgeoned to death with a large chef’s knife by her tormented adult son. In the blink of an eye, my world shattered; and, I thought I could not survive. That’s why I was deeply saddened to read some of the “heartbreaking and searingly honest stories about (young peoples’) decision(s) whether or not to have children because of climate concerns,” as recently reported in Laura Paddison’s “9 People On The Ethics Of Having Kids In An Era Of Climate Crisis” in HUFFPOST (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/climate-change-having-kids-children_n_5d493eaee4b0244052e09033). It seemed to me that choosing not to have kids sounded like a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Choose Life. For almost a decade, I struggled to survive big trauma and multiple traumatic events that followed, as I stumbled on my journey from successful wealth manager to NYC Uber driver, and eventually, to author and life coach. Turns out, with hard work over time, I was able to survive what I had thought was insurmountable tragedy. I was ready to “call it quits.” But, today I’m here to say: life is worth it. Despite how hopeless things may appear, I believe it’s not too late to “fix” the climate change crisis and save our planet. My message to those who have permitted the climate change problem to mess with their heads is: Don’t cave in. Don’t give up. And, Don’t forget the wise words of American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Pursue Light. Squelch Darkness. When we stop trying to better ourselves, others, all living things, and the world, we stop living! And, that means that we ignore the greatest gift of all … LIFE.
Wealth and power can be used to improve oneself, one’s neighbor, one’s community, and the world. But, wealth and power can also corrupt one’s self and one’s soul. Consider water: H20. In one form, it can be life-saving; life-sustaining, and life-nourishing. But, in another form, if it’s a tsunami, it can be life-threatening and life-taking. Same goes for wealth and power. In The Greed Syndrome, the author explores greed from various angles. While it is often “hailed as a motor of economic growth and human progress,” when it is uncontrolled, “greed is a major cause of economic crises.” (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2777233). Acquiring wealth certainly has its good sides. It can bring a sense of satisfaction to those who achieve it. Upwardly mobile executives can help build successful careers for themselves and their fellow co-workers. And, importantly, those who are most successful at accumulating wealth can bring a great deal of satisfaction to themselves, others, and the world, by giving back to society through philanthropy. But, greed can easily breed self-interest, arrogance, immorality, and even crime. And, what does greed have to do with climate change? Plenty! In Climate change: What 10 presidents have known, the 60-Minutes tv segment reported that a White House memorandum addressed ‘the carbon dioxide problem’ in straightforward terms ….the memo isn’t remarkable for its dire warning. It’s noteworthy because it is dated almost 50 years ago.” Special interest groups that protect the greedy bottom-line-at-any-cost-or-consequence vultures in corporate America and worldwide threaten our planet’s future. Scientists’ warnings have gone, largely, ignored over the past five decades … but, that’s beginning to change.
Pachamama’s Outcry. Have you considered that natural weather-related catastrophic events (ie., wild fires; earthquakes; hurricanes; tsunamis) and the large changes in weather patterns are Mother Nature’s way of crying out to us? Perhaps, what we are witnessing is the Earth’s self-preservation mechanism at work — asking that we STOP doing what harms our environment and threatens the very survival of our planet? This idea is not so farfetched. According to Dr. Synthia Andrews, N.D., “the Earth — even the Universe — is alive … is conscious, and has both an energetic and physical reality.” (https://innerself.com/content/living/science-a-technology/8891-mother- earth-alive-conscious-aura-chakras-ley-lines.html).
Climate Change Solutions. I’m always wary of the “little things” that are suggested as solutionsto the big problem of climate change. While I’ve learned that small things, consistently done over time by enough people, do make a difference (i.e., each of us recycling plastics), such differences will not be enough if larger issues are not addressed. Here are ten Earth-saving possibilities: “1) forego fossil fuels; 2) upgrade infrastructure; 3) move closer to work; 4) consume less; 5) be efficient; 6) eat smart, go vegetarian; 7) stop cutting down trees; 8) unplug; 9) have only one child; 10) replace fossil fuels (Biello, David. “10 Solutions for Climate Change.” Scientific American, November 26, 2007). Conservation, restoration, and improved land management are also essential in order to balance the interaction between people and nature. (Adams, Justin. “Natural Solution to Climate Change.” The Nature Conservancy, November 22, 2017).
Activism. The Earth’s survival — is now, or never. While the good news is that all is not lost, Zachary Slobig sounds the alarm by citing a 2015 Pew Research report finding that less than half of Americans see climate change as a serious threat; and, by pointing out that our being slow to act in response to climate change appears to be somewhat complex. First, we tend to undervalue long-term rewards; second, Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel’s experiments conclude that the industrialized human mind seems hard-wired to place a steep premium on “now,” and dawdles, procrastinates, and underinvests with respect to issues concerning future generations; and third, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains that the human brain is built to respond to four kinds of threats – intentional, immoral, imminent, and instantaneous — climate change being none of these.” The bestselling author of Blue Mind and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols suggests that the solution to our inertia may lie in water’s apparent ability to trigger an empathic shift from me to we. (https:// primemind.com/the-spiritual-awakening-that-could-save-our- planet-8c7267994c4a). And, in a recent tweet, Eckhart Tolle proposes that “the pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space.” (Eckhart Tolle Quotes @EckTOLLEQuotes, September 9, 2019).
There are viable solutions to climate change and available alternatives to fossil fuels. But, as Barak Obama has cautioned, “climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.” We must take action now. Fortunately, there is currently a groundswell of interest in saving our planet. On “one Friday in September, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg set herself up outside the Swedish Parliament with handmade signs …. (and, now,) her movement has swept around the world.” (Borunda, Alejandra. “These young activists are striking to save their planet from climate change.” National Geographic, March 13, 2019). To help deal with the crisis, Michael R. Bloomberg launched Beyond Carbon, the largest-ever coordinated campaign against climate change in the United States. The groundbreaking case of Juliana v. United States claims that youth have a right to demand that our government protect them against climate change consequences. Many other programs and protests are underway. Here are a few giants involved in fighting climate change, in the areas of international governance, green investments and civil society, as cited by Thales Dantas: Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), Green Climate Fund (GCF); Climate Investment Funds (CIF); 350.org; and, C40. (https://medium.com/@thalesetd/organizations-fighting- climate-change-a-quick-guide-2e700d96dc52). And, here’s a list of the top 50 non-profit organizations working to stop climate change. (https://climatestore.com/take-action/get-involved/non- profit-organizations-working-on-climate-change). They could use your support and direct participation!
Getting back to Laura Paddison’s interviews on the ethics of having children, experts believe that, sadly, a “one child per couple rule” will not be enough to successfully reduce or reverse unsustainable population growth that impacts the climate change crisis. Adoption is an admirable, but not currently popular, choice. Clearly, young peoples’ concerns and fears are certainly not unfounded. Serious introspection, candid communications between couples of child-bearing age, and soul-searching by involved parties is required.
Keeping Hope Alive. All is not lost. Harvard professor Steven Pinker, in ENLIGHTENMENT NOW, reports reasons to be optimistic. “Life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West but worldwide.” (Pinker, Steven. ENLIGHTENMENT NOW: The Case For Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Viking, 2018). By studying 50-year periods rather than twitter milliseconds, Pinker finds that the human condition is actually improving. But, in order to reverse the current and, hopefully, short-term negative trends that plague our society today, each of us can and must create positive changes in our world through our actions directed towards helping others. And, by so doing, we not only improve the world, but we activate what Arianna Huffington calls the self-care miracle drug: giving. (Huffington, Ariana. “What’s Missing From Our Conversation on Self-Care: Giving is like a self-care miracle drug.” ThriveGlobal, August 2, 2019. (https://thriveglobal.com/stories/why-giving-generosity-powerful-form-self-care-arianna-huffington/). As Ruth Wilson reminds us in “Caring for the Earth as a Spiritual Practice,” “caring expands our souls and is critical to attaining our full potential as humans …. Once we enter into a caring relationship with the natural environment and give of ourselves to protect it, we’ll understand more fully the truth behind the sentiment that it’s in giving that we receive.” (https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2015/01/25/caring-earth-spiritual-practice). And so, as if taking action to save our planet were not enough, in and of itself, there’s a silver lining too — personal transformation that leads to our spiritual growth.
Conclusion. If we are to be successful saving our planet, we must not cave in to the pressures of self-interested corporations. Rather, we must remain vigilant; stand up and be counted; persevere; be patient, yet relentless; and, remain hopeful. Then, and only then, I think, we can save our world. A great deal is at stake; and, I think, we’re worth it!
Burton M. Fischler received a Master’s Degree in Psychology and doctoral program teaching fellowship from New York University. Burton is a speaker, teacher, lecturer, and writer. After unwittingly becoming an expert in traversing life’s vicissitudes - surviving trauma, healing, growing, and thriving - Burton became a Certified Professional Life Coach specializing in trauma recovery and personal transformation.
As a result of personal tragedies and betrayals, Burton lost his beloved wife, lost his successful career as a wealth manager, and lost much more. In the wake of suffering, Burton’s decision to become a NYC Uber driver brought unexpected gifts of healing and spiritual revelations borne out of the experience of connecting with thousands of fellow human beings while on the road. His desire to help others survive their own suffering, tragedy, and grief motivated Burton to become a life coach and write his soon-to-be-published book, THE GIFT: SPIRITUAL REVELATIONS OF A NYC UBER DRIVER On The Road From Pain, Suffering & Tragedy To Surviving, Healing, Growing & Thriving. He recently published Lessons On Trauma Care From Humpty Dumpty(thriveglobal.com/…/lessons-on-trauma-care-from-humpty-dumpty) and The Gratitude Rx(thriveglobal.com/stories/the-gratitude-rx/). FOR MORE INFO: coachburton.com