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The Climate Change Personal Action Map: Normal Life

Default consciousness

two fish swimmingThere are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says Morning, boys. How’s the water? And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes What the hell is water?

The point of this story by David Foster Wallace is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about – that in the day to day trenches of normal existence, the water we’re swimming in – our default consciousness – can have a life or death importance.

The following sentences are a few examples of the water we’re swimming in.

  • When you need light, flip a switch.
  • When you need water, turn a faucet.
  • When you are done with something, throw it away.
  • When you need food, go to a store.
  • When you go to a store, get there by car.
  • When you need other stuff, go to the mall, or shop online.
  • When you travel long distance, take a plane.
  • When you need information, Google it
  • When you need to connect, text or friend someone.
  • When you want children, have them.
  • When corporations grow, they create jobs.
  • When you get an education, you will get a good job..
  • When you work hard, you will be successful.
  • When you are successful, you can support a family, fulfill your personal potential, and eventually retire.
  • When you live right and consume the right products, you will not die.

In normal living we rarely think about these sentences. We just do the activities. The sentences are unconscious assumptions. They are the water in which we swim – our default way of being and acting in the world.

Within this section of our map we look at…

…life as it was before we became aware of catastrophic climate change and the possibility of our near term human extinction. We consider questions like:

  • How am I different now that I am aware?
  • In what ways am I better off?
  • In what ways was life better before awareness?
  • Why is it that people deny what appears to me now obvious about climate change?
  • How best can I relate to them and be less alone?

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