It’s difficult to imagine what the next several years will be like after this—the 2016 U.S. election. Conservative Republicans will control all branches of the U.S. government. In this context, every progressive cause will be impacted. Will it be for better, or worse as many assume?
The vision of a just world in its most inclusive meaning is in extreme danger. People are turning to nonprofit organizations for hope, social support, information, and tools to fight the agenda of the incoming government and what it intends to impose upon us. People are responding by joining and donating to progressive organizations. Peter Dykstra of Environmental Health News and Climate.org (check them out!), in a public radio episode of Living on Earth interview, noted that, “Nonprofit environmental groups reported a surge in new members and donations and volunteers.” He also cited record increases in public support for organizations like The Sierra Club, The Environmental Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU.
Advocates—from mainstream movements to those on the cutting edge of social consciousness—are building renewed strength and determination to push back. The goal? Limit damage as regressive conservatives position themselves to attack hard-won progress on civil rights, environmental protections, and justice for nonhuman beings. Aware we are still a long way from our goals, losing ground would be excruciating.
This approaching social and political attack on us will be deep and wide. We will be forced to spend much of our time not building on the progress and victories we have won, but instead defending and perhaps salvaging what may be left of our work. Will we be consumed organizing and demonstrating against government repeals of environmental and minority protections and denials of climate change, or will we be inspired to unite our many causes under a common banner as never before?
What Is the Opportunity?
We have an opportunity. As I describe in This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology the challenges we face are actually one issue: changing human behavior. Changing human behavior is the essence of what organizations and we are trying to do. Human behavior is the cause and, thankfully, the cure for global ills that progressive organizations and individuals must address. Many environmental and some animal advocate nonprofits gave up on this approach. They looked to influencing policies and legislation to win goals. That arena is now closed for some time.
Human behavior can create environmental protection, veganism’s nonviolence and sustainability, social and economic justice, an end to human overpopulation, reformed financial and corporate institutions, and the separation of money from political elections. Conversely, our behaviors can push us to the abyss of environmental and social collapse that will be humanity’s legacy not unlike fictionalized, end-of-the-world movies, or totalitarian regimes.
It’s easy to march together carrying banners that reflect our specific issues but we need to go further. There is nothing stopping us from organizing and uniting as a collective movement that encompasses all that is required for humankind and biodiversity to not only survive, but thrive in just societies all over the world—except ourselves. We and progressive organizations can win this but we have to be open to agreeing on what package of human behaviors needs to change. As for our common banner, consider human ecology because it goes beyond intersectionality to induce a more inclusive social movement.
Human ecology is about the relationships we create between each other and the world around us through our behaviors. We must change our human ecology via a wholesale change in human behavior. That is how we are going to end our personal and collective destructive relationships. As a movement, we offer a new human ecology, new behavior, new human.
Those soon to be in power will attempt to change, not one thing that is sacred to us, but many. They will try to force us back to behaviors that are detrimental to the ecosystems of the world, further empower corporate domination, and reduce liberties and justice for others. Those about to take over the U.S. government understand that their platform and strategy must address many belief-driven human behaviors to carry their vision forward. Ours is still incomplete because we haven’t yet agreed to include human overpopulation, veganism and what a sustainable economic system would look like—for starters.
Imagine this disaster of an election, so radically against what we believe in, pushing us to respond as a united community that advocates a new human ecology. It would be the ultimate intersectionality of issues and behaviors, underwritten by the Golden Rule.