Collectivist societies face collapse better

This is from a Twitter thread by

Elizabeth Sawin@bethsawinMother, systems thinker, committed to climate solutions that prioritize equity, health, and well being.

TEDx talk: (link:… Hartland, VT, USA

I think it’s worth reprinting for all the ‘bootstrap’ types that believe that they can ride anything out alone.

Thread follows:

Those of us (including me) raised in cultures that prioritize individualism, are poorly prepared for the #ClimateCrisis I think.  When I feel demoralized or paralyzed, I root around in my mind, and often what I find underneath is one or another attitude of individualism.

Climate Individualism – focus on your own carbon footprint (which you can never drive low enough in a society awash in cheap fossil fuels)

Climate Collectivism – apply pressure so that incentives and infrastructure investments help lower everyone’s footprint

Individualism – look for ways to manage climate fear/grief/anger on your own

Climate Collectivism – see yourself as one sensing element amongst many and realize that vulnerability and sharing of your struggles strengthens others.

Climate Individualism – feel small and powerless because of the limits to your time, resources, and skills

Climate Collectivism – celebrate all the others, doing things you could never do, and focus on doing your small part with excellence and determination

Climate Individualism – if a full solution doesn’t seem possible in your lifetime then nothing feels worth trying

Climate Collectivism – your lifetime bridges centuries of harm that set the stage for climate change and centuries of healing that need to start now. Just be a bridge

Anyway, don’t take my word for it, test it out for yourself. The next time you feel overwhelmed or despairing about climate change are you thinking/feeling/acting out a pattern from a highly individualistic culture? If you shift the pattern, what changes?

Climate Individualism keeps us small and weak, and holds the status quo and vested interests in place. Watch out for it. And when it shows up, as it does for me in times of stress or exhaustion, see it, name it, and send it on its way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.