We need more environmental leadership

We need more environmental leadership Last week Jackson Katz spoke at a conference here about the crisis in masculinity. He described how our norms invite boys to adopt a "tough guise," concealing their feelings to be cool, so as to dominate others in a

Last week Jackson Katz spoke at a conference here about the crisis in masculinity. He described how our norms invite boys to adopt a “tough guise,” concealing their feelings to be cool, so as to dominate others in a hierarchy, rather than encourage them to be moral, interactive beings.

Somehow, the tragedy of a huge problem of violence (e.g. guns) – mostly perpetrated by men on other men – is concealed by the media, though misogyny is also in the tough guise pose, perpetuating an attitude of it being cool to denigrate the feminine.

It being a teachers conference, Katz discussed bullying in schools, but he argued this issue affects all aspects of society. He recommended that culturally we need to stop being bystanders who walk away, and instead, as bystanders, to speak out.

Children need to be educated in this, yet leadership needs to come from authorities (adults, teachers, elected leaders etc.) as it is very difficult to change social norms and those who speak up need lots of support.

Katz also gave a powerful example of moral leadership working: a 2013 YouTube video of intervention in an army sexual harassment scandal in Australia, by the army chief of staff, David Morrison, whose exhortation to decent behaviour has gone viral.

With my interest in our healthy future, and given the threat of climate change and environmental devastation, it is a short step to me to feel impelled to call on our leaders to take a moral stand for a decent quality of life for future generations, for a living planet with drinkable water and breathable air. We must invest in renewables, not oil infrastructure.

I worry many “leaders” find it inexpedient to link morals to climate leadership. Yet surely it is more moral to avoid death by climate and ecological disaster for millions.

Articles abound on how “interests,” keen on making Canada a resource colony, deliberately cloud public discourse and work hard to distort our politics so the public will not recognize the urgency of acting immediately against climate change and toxic pollution.

Politicians must stop buying that the economy exists apart from the environment – as if we will even have an economy if the environment collapses. Do these politicians hope they will be admitted to some geodesic dome otherwise reserved for rich people, after environmental collapse?

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson just joined an anti-fracking lawsuit as a private individual, even though his job makes him one of the highest profile individuals in the U.S. pushing the industry.

Why? A fracking development proposed near his multi-million dollar property will reduce his property value. He seems not to have a problem inflicting this on others. When I googled him, I discovered he has been an active boy scout since his youth. What I find here isn’t scout’s honour but hypocrisy.

I call on our local politicians to acknowledge their moral leadership, and say no to fossil fuels, and fracking, in the Yukon. I suspect that it will feel refreshingly enjoyable to act with honour.

Susan Gwynne-Timothy

Marsh Lake

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