Moving from being a spectator to being a participant

Last night I went to a discussion at Bristol Cathedral which looked at global development and taxation. On one level, it wasn’t openly about climate change and peak oil, although global development/growth and the use of taxes are intrinsically linked to both subjects.

What I found interesting was the emphasis put on individuals, organisations and governments around the world taking responsibility for their actions – and non-actions – and the short-term pain of taxes bringing long-term gains. As one Kenyan president apparently said, taxes bring freedom. Or putting it another way, taxation is the price of civilisation. The whole debate reminded me of similar discussions within environmental circles – how do you change people’s mind sets and behaviour so that they have jam in the future rather than today? How do you link the actions of individuals, organisations and governments to make a real difference? I love the serendipity of ideas coming from different directions, feeding off each other and suddenly making more sense.

It also reminded me that the previous evening I’d watched the dvd ‘Dirty Oil’ (Dir Leslie Iwerks 2010) about the Alberta tar sands meeting the US addiction to oil, and one environmentalist saying that ‘Saving civilisation isn’t a spectator sport.’ With both the film and the Bristol discussion focussing on the role of people actively contributing to the survival of civilisation, it made me stop and think about my own contribution – and that of Transition. Am I a spectator commenting from the sidelines, expecting others to make the running, or am I taking part? And if I’m taking part, how seriously am I applying myself to winning? Do I make sure I have the latest tools and equipment, am I in training, am I taking part at an amateur level, how can I improve my game?

As with anything else, the more I know, the more I realise I don’t know – but that I do have a responsibility to step off the touch-line and take part. And that being able to make a difference depends on being as well equipped as possible, so that when the goal posts move I’m in position to strike. However, before I get sent off for any more sporting clichés, I shall stop and retire to the dressing room!

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