The impossible, made possible

Good Sunday Morning,

vandeglobe.jpgAlbert Einstein called it the biggest blunder of his life when he invented the cosmological constant to explain away something that was perceived as unimaginable at the time. Every religion or faith in human history finds its strength from something that appears on the surface to be impossible. Sailors in the Vendée Globe have survived impossible conditions, lashed to the rudder of their upturned sailboats with 50 foot waves washing over them for two nights and two days on the frozen sea of the antarctic ocean. Skiffs crossed the English channel to rescue 300,000 soldiers at Dunkirk when the prudent decision would have been to surrender to Hitler. We decided to put men on the moon with a fraction of the computer or navigation power contained in our smart phones today.

The impossible, made possible. The unlikely made inevitable. The dream willed into reality. Human civilization is built on this. And still, we are surrounded by what Becky Bond defines as "the counter revolution" in her book - Rules for Revolutionaries.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they start posting mean comments on your Facebook timeline. When you’re fighting for radical change, and you get close to winning, all kinds of people—including many you thought were allies—will begin attacking you. You will be surprised, confused, and lose precious time and focus if you’re not prepared for the counterrevolution.

"Whenever you try to do something big—or try to do things differently—there are going to be conflicts, politics, and drama. Especially if you call it revolution! It starts with derision or dismissal at first, when you’re easy to ignore. But if you start to show success, and it looks like you really might be about to change things, that’s when they come down on you like a ton of bricks and the counterrevolution begins in earnest.

Solar.jpg"The counterrevolution is a real thing. It’s the movement to squash revolutionary trends that rises up in unexpected ways whenever we’re on the cusp of real change. And it probably will include your friends, even those you wouldn’t expect. The upside to the counterrevolution is that it is a pretty effective filter for identifying who truly wants to work for change. The counterrevolution pops up whenever you’re fighting for big change against entrenched interests. When someone who you think would be on your side tries to get you to soften your message or ask for something smaller, that might be the counterrevolution.

"It often manifests itself when someone who you think is your ally says that it is not a good time to be pressing for change. “If you ask for the big thing, we might not be able to win the small thing.” Sometimes people who have revolutionary values join the counterrevolution—this can be for several reasons: They have a career that could be hurt by joining the revolution, their friends are counterrevolutionaries, or they have a psychological investment in nuance that prevents them from seeing the big picture and traps them in a reflexive incrementalism.

"Counterrevolutionaries are almost always devotees of small organizing, while revolutionaries practice big organizing. Take note of the counterrevolutionaries when they reveal themselves. They’re definitely not allies, and sometimes they even become enemies in a particular political fight. But don’t forget to also take note of who is willing to join you not just in speaking up for big change but in fighting for it. If you’re aware of the counterrevolution, it won’t take you by surprise. Get ready for it. You can still be friends with people in the counterrevolution. But don’t let them distract or dissuade you from the work of making real, big, and lasting change."

Perhaps that is what Elizabeth was driving at when, in December of 2015, she closed her speech at our Green Solstice Party here in Victoria with the following sentiment: "We have to figure out how to tell the people whose easy trick is to be cynical, that we don't have time for them anymore. We have to watch out for people who've invested themselves in cynicism and we have to be able to reclaim that higher ground, we have to be the beacon...[of hope]."

In this article David Suzuki reminds us of other tactics employed by the counter revolutionaries: “We’re not going to get off fossil fuels overnight!” he quotes rhetorically. "How many times have you heard that? Over the decades I’ve been hearing it, we’ve increased exploration and development, continued to build infrastructure that locks us in to fossil fuels for years to come, increased greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and failed to conserve energy and develop clean energy to the extent necessary to prevent catastrophic global climate change. At some point, the phrase just becomes an excuse for procrastination."

kinder_morgan_headquarters.jpgA couple of days ago, I received a call from a gentleman who wanted to talk about Kinder Morgan and had some questions around the transport of dilbit. At one point during the conversation he said that "let's face it, the project will go ahead and big oil will win. They always have." But as I write this on Saturday afternoon, there are people marching in the streets of Vancouver who refuse to believe that. And some of those people were in Texas last week to help shift the thinking of Kinder Morgan Shareholders as they passed a resolution against the advice of the CEO.

The point is that we can achieve what so many tell us is impossible. And what Becky calls a "revolution" is simply a movement to take back our democracy, take back our government, take back our country. There comes a time when we say to ourselves: "This really matters, this one's important." The good news is that there are many opportunities for us to do that.

  • You can get your early bird tickets for our national convention in Vancouver at the end of September. Although still in the planning stages, the expectation is that this convention will help to inspire Canadians to embrace a beautiful future together. A future that recognizes the challenges of our time as opportunities. A future that moves beyond the toxic technologies of the past and builds on our sense of fairness to work for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives.
  • Adam.jpgParticipate in this forum to help our MLA Adam Olsen, to better represent us and our community as a whole. To ensure the ability for you to give the feedback you wish, including any critical feedback (which is welcome), the forum will be administered by Royal Roads Masters’ students..."
  • You can reflect on three years of Green in PEI with this wonderful recap of memories. "We can chart our own course, we can choose the future that we prefer. This precious gift of provincehood (and nationhood) is something we all too often take for granted and I feel that we do not treat it with the respect and care that it deserves." There are two bills before that provincial legislature right now that demonstrate the impact we have when we give voice to our values. One is to modernize campaign funding rules which reflect what Peter has been championing relentlessly for some time and the other is a blatant attempt to dampen the public support that is building for Proportional Representation in that province.
  • You can join the first Green caucus in the country and help celebrate their first year in office together at the Annual Convention in Kamloops on June 1st.
  • You can participate in a Community Dialogue about Kinder Morgan at Adam Olsen's MLA Constituency Office on May 17th. If you can't be there in person, there is a discussion and poll on this topic that you can participate by logging into
  • You can join us for our next Sustainable Living Series event on May 24th at White House Stables. With the relatively low cost of solar panels, personal solar power is now a reality for us coastal residents. Join us to find out more about the potential and reality of producing your own power.
  • You can attend this Salt Spring Island Film Screening of "Directly Affected: Pipeline Under Pressure" on May 25th. The film will be shown at Artspring on Friday, May 25th at 7 pm, followed by a panel discussion with the director, local journalist Briony Penn and co-founder of CRED (Conversations for Responsible Economic Development) Tarah Stafford.
  • You can attend another Salt Spring Forum event featuring the author of "Matters of Life and Death" a book about our Health Care system in Canada
  • You can attend "Spilling the facts on Dilbit," a panel discussion with Elizabeth May on May 16th at U-Vic.
  • And you can help push Mike Schreiner over the top by promoting his videos and posts on Social media.

Elizabeth.jpgThere are two components to driving change in our society through the democratic process. One is to elect people with integrity, that speak the truth and are true to their values. The other is to support those people once they are elected. That support can take many forms but it always involves a sense of hope and a commitment to reach beyond the cynicism of power politics.

Try it. Share your excitement about building a beautiful future with a friend. Be that beacon. Bring someone hope.

Until next week,

"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015

This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues. And if you are on twitter please join in on this hashtag.

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