Oct 13, 2012

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Kathleen Dean Moore on hope and integrity

It’s really a problem, this thing about hope. Cause it’s true…it’s true that our options are limited and that our cities are disgracefully designed when it comes to using fuel and that destructive ways of living are very skilfully linked to tangles of profit and power in the world and we don’t have very much time. Even the most conscientious person, the most hopeful person, is going to have trouble making significant change.

And Gus Speth, the former dean of Yale Law School, says, “All we have to do destroy the planet’s climate ecosystem and leave a ruined world for our children and grandchildren is to keep doing exactly what we are doing today.”

This is a problem. And here’s the problem - well, there’s lots of problems. The one I want to talk about in particular is this: that we are utilitarians. That is to say, we judge the rightness or wrongness of our acts by their consequences. When we think we cannot have good consequences to our acts, we completely abandon morality. So, we have a situation where on the one hand, you could be hopeful. But if you lose hope, you fall into this abyss which is despair, which is the abdication of moral responsibility.

What I want to point out to you is that that also is a fallacy - that’s a fallacy of false dichotomy. Because between hope and despair is this very broad landscape, and we call it integrity. Integrity. Acting in the way you believe in. Doing what’s right because you believe it’s right. Finding a way that your actions and your values integrate. And that’s, I think, what we’re called to do in these very dangerous times

…What does it mean for particulars?… We can choose to refuse to allow ourselves to allow ourselves to be used as instruments of destruction. I am not going to allow you to use me to wreck the world. I refuse to do what I don’t believe in.”

Kathleen Dean Moore at SFU on our moral obligation to the future and to children to expend extraordinary effort reducing or reversing the harms of climate change.

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