Rob: Now, you talk about group transcendence. Can you discuss that a little bit?
MP: Well, for example, there's a sense, and we all know this, that we will all put our bodies on the line to stop that pipeline. I mean, this pipeline fight isn't over until we give up. It doesn't matter what President Obama says. It doesn't matter what our politicians say. Our local politicians have been bought and paid for. I mean, there are civil suits against our governor and attorney general for taking money from TransCanada off the table. Our politicians, with the exception of a few very principled people, are in the pockets of TransCanada. And that's one reason so many people became activists is they tried the other ways of influencing government and realized they couldn't do it, that no matter what they said, no matter what the scientific arguments were against the pipeline crossing an aquifer in the Sandhills, our politicians had already made up their minds and were not responsive. So that is one thing that turned a lot of very quiet, non-political people into activists...is they had to be activists if anything was going to change.
But our group has had...like, for example, here's a group experience that was really transcendent. Our group decided to build a solar barn on the route of the Keystone XL pipeline and we had a great big old fashioned solar barn raising with a big potluck and fried chicken and pies and quinoa salads for the vegetarians and deviled eggs and so on. But we were out there two whole days, and we were camping and working on this solar barn. And then at the end of the solar barn, when the last panels were up and the last nail was hammered in, we all sang together. We just sat down and sang and it was so beautiful it's just hard to describe. We were so happy and so proud of ourselves and so pleased that we had a solar barn and we were giving TransCanada a lesson in the people of Nebraska and what we thought about their pipeline.
Since that time we've used that solar barn for all kinds of things... we've recorded music out there against the pipeline, the Great March for Climate is coming through Nebraska right now and they're going to be camping at our solar barn and having festivities out there. So that solar barn is a place of great joy and community for all of us.
And the climate marchers, by the way, are going to be in Lincoln next week and we're going to have a big corn roast for them and welcome to our state capital. We're going to have yoga in the parks in the morning with all the yoga teachers in town and probably 3 or 400 people. And we've just tried to do everything we can. Lincoln is their halfway point from LA to DC and they arrive in DC in October, I think, but we have done everything we can to make sure that these marchers, as they walk across Nebraska, feel the love of our state for people fighting climate change. In fact, one thing we did was we organized 300 pies for the marchers. So all the way along their route they have fresh baked pies from the local communities.
Rob: That's great.
MP: It's really been something, Rob, to see what can happen in this state when people work together, you know.
Rob: Now you talk...you have a chapter, "Sailing On: New Healthy Normal," and I really like that idea. You say, "Implied in the term 'new healthy normal' is my assumption that it's not mentally healthy to sit idly by while the human race destroys its mother ship." Tell us more about that.
MP: Well, I think that living in 2014 is a very, very complicated process. I have enormous empathy for people who are in denial because it's so hard not to just want to be happy and love your family and friends and enjoy your life. And if you open yourself to the pain of the world on a regular basis, it can be devastating. And probably you know and I know people who are devastated and are just really clinically depressed. So the trick, I think, for new healthy normal is figuring out a way to bracket and contain that grief and transform it, accept it and acknowledge it and allow yourself to feel it and then transform it into something more positive and wholesome and healthy.
And one way to talk about it is resilience. You know there's a resilient response to trauma whether it's in a concentration camp or after an earthquake. And so new healthy normal to me is really talking about what is a resilience response to trauma. And one of the resilient responses is to be embedded in a community where you have lots of people who you can enjoy and have fun with and work together and share with.
For example, one thing I say in the book is a community can start with one other person. If you're living in a city and don't have very many friends, but, say you're listening to this radio broadcast and think, "Well I really like Mary's ideas, but what can I do? I don't have that many friends." Well, you can meet at a coffee shop with one person and call that a community until you have some more people. It's really not that hard. It's really easy, in fact, to get something good started with one other person. That's what Brad and I did. So part of it is community; part of it is having really reliable ways to destressify...and healthy ways, like sports and exercise and being outdoors and listening to music and creative pursuits, and so on. And then another very strong component of it is protecting yourself from distractional intelligence.
And I don't really see any point in absorbing much more information that you can actually respond to in a useful way. So one thing I've noticed about me is I used to be a big news junkie and I'm not anymore because it just left me feeling so bereft and sad about the world. So I'll do a skim of the newspaper. I'll listen to headlines now and then and I read a lot of real good news magazines, but I tend to skip things that I have absolutely no control over that are going to leave me very dark.
Now, one caveat about that. You can have control over anything you decide you want to have control over. In other words, if I decided my cause was Iraq, I would figure out a way to act on behalf of helping the people in Iraq. But I've decided my cause is climate change in the state of Nebraska. One of the things I believe is iif you work hard on climate change in your local area, other people will work hard in theirs and we can save the planet. It will absolutely be grassroots work because the planet governments are not organized. They're nation-states. They're not organized around communal goals. But people are, actually, easily organized around communal goals. People in Brazil and Australia and Nebraska and Tibet and Manila all want the same thing which is clean air and water and green space and a healthy food supply and a future for their children. So actually, the only organization to fight this is going to be a grassroots organization.
Peter Russell said it very well when he said, "Humanity appears to be approaching the breaking point and there are two possible outcomes -- breakdown or breakthrough."
Now, on my optimistic days, I think we're moving pretty fast for a breakthrough because everywhere I go when I speak about this book, people say, you have no idea how much is going on in our community. And one reason we don't, by the way, is the media, with the exception of you and a few other media source, carries very little on environmental action. Amy Goodman does pretty well on Democracy Now. NPR is terrible on its environmental coverage. Most newspapers hardly touch it. But if we knew how many people on earth felt the way we do and are willing to work as hard as we are to make things better, we would be incredibly heartened and excited, because the structure to change things, I truly believe Rob, is there all over the world. It just is having trouble emerging from under these old morbid systems that are sitting on top of it right now.
Rob: You talk about, in terms of making stuff happen, the structure to change things. You talk about intentional living and everyday activism. Can you talk about that?