“Play to your strengths,” the (admittedly false) Mad-Eye Moody says to Harry Potter when he is faced with the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. At this moment, the task at hand felt legitimately impossible and frighteningly overwhelming.
The same can be said for the environmental problem we face — the problem is overwhelming, seems impossible to face. This is partially because the magnitude of the problem requires so much work that cannot be done by one person. But I wonder if it is not also because we are not playing to our strengths. As I turned the problem over in my head for the last few weeks, I gathered as many resources as I could on climate change — from my library, from the web, etc., in the hopes of putting together a coherent narrative. I wanted to understand the science and the problem before I tried my hand at telling a different story.
But perhaps… perhaps the science is not my job. The science is interesting to me, sure. But I already have what I need from the science, and I think the people that know the science well are already doing their job explaining to the public as best they can what the projected environmental impacts are if we continue on our current course.
So, what does playing to my strengths look like for me on this problem? Perhaps it is in the vein of what I have done and am doing currently. Reading and appropriating philosophers and theologians from history to help us understand what it means to live the “good life,” and then relaying that message somehow. It means teaching a philosophy class, doing work in my local church community, and writing, writing, writing on the importance of thinking clearly, charitably, and with an open heart and mind.
Kierkegaard calls us back and back again to examine our hearts. “Subjectivity is truth,” he writes — because he knows that when we become deeply authentic (not the weak, anemic, American self-esteem based, authenticity, but the kind of authenticity that is that of a human being becoming a true “self” apart from the mass of humanity that demands conformity), we create a better society. And this just may be true about the environment as well. Deep authenticity (or, a better individualism) will save us.