This post is part of a Mental Health Awareness Month blog series that highlights “Closer Look” perspectives from the 2021 edition of Mental Health and Our Changing Climate. This is a reprint from the report.
The Fight for a Livable Future
Growing up, it was hard to imagine anything but the current state of the world. I had no concept of what societal and ecological collapse might look like. My concerns involved figuring out where to go to college, what career I’d want to pursue, and how to best live a healthy and fulfilling life. I had heard about climate change, we all had at some point — but I never expected it to someday consume my every waking moment.
Fast forward 10 years and it now shapes my entire life. I live as an activist and organizer, driven out of fury at our situation. It feels like the more I learn, the more dire the situation becomes. Initially, this knowledge led to anger, which caused me to act. After a while, this just became what I do. I rarely feel similar levels of rage as I did when I began — it’s hard to maintain that level of emotion when fighting such a big battle with seemingly little progress.
Part of me wonders if I’ve lost my passion. Why am I still doing this if I no longer feel the intense emotions that drove me to action in the first place? For a while, I failed to realize the extreme mental and emotional toll this work involves. Constantly thinking and talking about the end of the world, reconciling with the slow rate of progress, and desperately trying to find ways to enact change at any level. Eventually, it was easier to just feel numbness than constant anger and anxiety. Even when I feel most burnt out and numb, I continue moving forward because of how much is at stake.
No matter what, our world is being forced to change. Climate chaos will crumble institutions and the basic functions of our society that we take for granted. We either have to embrace proactive change or be forced to play catch up as the climate crisis strips away every societal function we saw as normal.
I know that change will be difficult, but that’s why I take action. To create a future, with my own hands, that centers sustainability, equity, and environmental justice. This is our chance; change must come, and I will do everything in my power to steer us in the right direction. This is a fight for a liveable and just future, and for the planet itself.
About Sasha Lewis-Norelle
Sasha is Environmental Health and Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action Minnesota, Core Organizer for Sunrise Saint Paul, and Leadership Circle Member for MN350’s Pipeline Resistance Team.
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