Mary Pipher-- is a psychologist, activist, author, most notably of Reviving Ophelia, which opened up an important discussion about the challenges adolescent girls face in today's world.
I had Mary as a guest on my show a few years ago to talk about her book, Writing to Change the World. Now, her newest book is The Green Boat, Reviving ourselves in our capsized culture. It explores grassroots approaches to climate change.
Rob: In Writing to Change the World, you say, "Good writing facilitates the making of connections in a way that inspires openheartedness, thinking, talking, and action. Good writing connects people to one another, to other living creatures, to stories and ideas and to action. it allows readers to see the world from a new perspective." In writing your new book, The Green Boat, you've walked your talk.
The world is full of people with really good intentions who don't have an idea on what to do...
You start out talking about some pretty negative stuff in the beginning of the book-- about hopelessness-- and I see this among the readers of Opednews.
The despair-- it's not just our climate that's failing us-- nation state, banking, education, court system, prison system"
Stanley Cohen's book: States of Denial
willful ignorance, where you both know and don't know what's happening.
Colleen Norgard-- Don't ask, don't tell-- our approach to dealing with climate change.
Rob: You say, ""anytime we humans disconnect from reality, we enter individually and collectively what could be called a psychotic state."
"we need to include the whole web of life in the circle of caring, or we will destroy ourselves.
Rob: Your book shares your experience, in Nebraska, a conservative state, in becoming active in fighting Keystone XL
Rob: You talk about the trauma to transcendence cycle.
Rebeccal Solnit "Transcendance sneaks in everywhere as a survival response"
Three ways to achieve transcendence
increasing one's moral imagination-- life is not just about me and my pain, it's about the pain of the world.
If you're going to deal directly with pain, you have to figure out how to counterbalance those painful experiences with bliss.
Anna Tennant Moore said "It took me a long time to realize that being miserable does not alleviate the world's misery.
Ranchers are conservative but need water-- you can't give a cow bottled water.
"To believe you are powerless is to cede all of your power to other people. If you act as if you have power you create power from thin air."
If you want to see how things work in this country, try to change it.
Rob: You have a different opinion about Maslow and his hierarchy. Can you talk about that?
The first thing we need in our lives is hope and the second thing is connection and the third is a sense of meaning.
Mental health argument for activism-- we know the brain functions at its best when it's hopeful. The best way to be mentally healthy is to be a connected activist.
Polite activism" Everything we do is about joy and connection and bringing people together around core values"
"You cannot reason someone out of something they didn't reason themselves into."
Actionable and distractionable intelligence--
Rob: Can you talk about transcendence
root word is crossing over
"If your problems are too big for you, you need to get bigger."
Feel a deep sense of inner connection for all beings.
Tich Nhat Han
Rob: you also talk about Group transcendence. Can you talk about that a bit?
This pipeline fight isn't over until we give up.
Rob: You have a chapter in your book, SAILING ON-- New Healthy Normal, and you say, "implied in the term "new healthy normal" is my assumption that it is not mentally healthy to sit idly by while the human race destroys its mother ship."
One resilient response is to be embedded in a community.
protecting yourself from distractional intelligence.
Media don't cover environmental issues--
The structure to change things is there all around
Rob: You talk about intentional living and everyday activism
what are you already doing? Most people are doing a lot already-- recycling, riding bike, conscious of mileage they're driving, keeping thermostat lower, try to buy local. When I go to the grocery store and I don't buy fruit that's shipped in from other countries.
Figuring a way to talk to people, about these issues-- and nobody wants to talk about climate change--
Rob: You cite a study that showed that altruistic people actually live longer lives. Can you talk about this?
Martin Seligman study-- give $20 to one group to spend on selves, and to another group to do something good for others.-- people feel better if they've done something good for others.
David brooks that meets once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income.
Rob: You differentiate between empathy and moral imagination---
Good is that which increases the moral imagination. Evil is that which diminishes it.
implies creativity, active search for understanding, active engagement in helping other living beings to have a better life.
Pornography, hate speech are evil, diminish moral imagination
Reviving Ophelia-- all over the world groups formed to help teenage girls
also working with alternative energy, water, divestment-- never made this a political issue-- clean water, good food supply, these are not conservative or liberal issues-- they're human issues. When I'm writing I try to write as a cultural therapist,
You talk about how you can't tell people to wake up. So what do you do?
The best way to inspire people to act is to be in relationship with them. If you are willing to work with them towards common goals, use language that is not political, you can get so much done.
We didn't ever talk about Democrats
Rob: You say that people don't wake up when you tell them to" so how do you wake people up?
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