WABI”’ real time : Mid August, and iv’e just spent the day laying on my back underneath WABI”’ scraping off several years worth of antifouling and then sanding, sanding and more sanding. Anyone who has done the job will know that it’s dirty, tedious, tiring and just seems to go on forever.
When i’m doing that kind of job, in fact any kind of job that just needs thousands of repetitive actions, i try to go into autopilot mode and do other things with my thinking head. I can understand why people like to have the radio on for that kind of job : i don’t because local radio is just so damn bad, if i was really well organised i would listen to something useful like a podcast.
What i actually had to do today was just block out the noise of the yard ‘expert’ yapping away in full motor-mouth mode and use the time to do some productive work, at least in my head for my writing project or the blog. In times past i used to do a lot of that while i was walking : set legs to autopilot and set brain to active thinking mode. Today iv’e got a bit of a problem in my writing and it’s the opposite of writers block : iv’e now got so many new sections to write that i almost can’t concentrate on just one. Aside from that i realised today that iv’e also got a huge distraction going on in my head which is why i decided to write this post for the blog : my intention being to write it down , post it and forget about it.
I suspect though that like a bad toothache this one isn’t going away so…
Firstly then let me introduce and explain what rules 5, 6 and 7 are and what the extras are…then i should try and explain what the mental distraction is all about.
The rules i am referring to are numbers 6 and 7 from Dr Jordan B Peterson’s book “12 rules for life…..an antidote to chaos” : some of you might remember that iv’e written about JBP here before and early last year i took time out to go to London and his first ever UK lecture. Rule no 5 actually comes from an earlier piece he did called ’42 rules for life’ and which i rather like with the ’42’ connection. Since then of course Peterson has acquired almost rock-star status , touring the world giving lectures and annoying ‘woke’ journalists and interviewers everywhere. For those readers that haven’t got a copy of the book i will write out the 2 rules as i try to explain their relevance to the distraction.
The mental distraction though is this : Tintin the sailor….or not….as is the case.
You are probably asking yourself now “who the heck is Tintin the non sailor” ? well Tintin is of course none other than Ms Greta ( Tintin Eleonora Ernman) Thunberg of course and every time i go onto the sailing FB group i contribute to, someone is ripping into somebody else for either the opinion that Tintin is nothing but a pretentious kid being manipulated for political ends ….or is nothing short of the messiah….i of course was brought up on a solid diet of Monty Python so to me “she’s not the messiah” goes without saying : but what’s it all about and why are all the social media, keyboard warrior types all getting their panties up their bottoms over a 16 year old….who isn’t even sailing the damned boat i should add.
On the surface what this whole thing looks like is teenager braving the wild Atlantic on a sailing boat no less to go and attend a climate change conference and in so doing to ‘raise our awareness’ of climate change….that of course being the ‘correct’ opinion. Well, the surface view sent my personal bullshit-o-meter into overdrive immediately and it’s stayed there ever since : when i express that view i just get labelled a climate change denier and/or internet troll/bully and/or cynical ‘priveliged’ white male…..blah blah.
I’ll admit to the cynical bit although i’d like to come back to it a bit later on.
Dig a little deeper and this is a 16 year old autistic teenager , dressed up as a child, with her teddy bear for company being a passenger on a high end carbon fibre race yacht with the reason being given as that she won’t fly because of the carbon cost…..even in those few lines it starts to smell like my 5 day old socks !. Even at that level it’s clearly a PR stunt but for who and why. If it was genuinely an anti-carbon cost problem why use the most expensive luxury toy, a custom built carbon fibre race yacht, in fact why go in person at all…..why not just embrace the 21st century technology and do it by video conferencing : well of course then the ‘virtue’ wouldn’t be fully signalled….this isn’t about the actual act of being at a climate change conference and presenting some hard science which my generation would find compelling it’s about being seen to be there.
As Dr Peterson says in the original rule no 5 :
If you have to chose, be the one who does things instead of the one who is seen to do something.
Many say “but at least she is doing something” no she isn’t : doing something would be to become highly educated rather than rejecting education….she comes from a country with a superb education system, and to then go and really do something, one serious bit of science perhaps and here’s the rub….as many highly educated and committed individuals that we never hear about are actually doing right now. Ok so lets say that Ms Thunberg isn’t up to that level of intellectual capability, well many aren’t but are also actually and for real ‘out there’ doing something tangible such as clearing plastics off a beach, planting actual trees or just making simple everyday choices like not driving a car perhaps or mending something rather than throwing away.
So people say “but at least she is doing something” and by implication that others, me for example are not, and even worse that we, by not being ‘on message’ are cynics, haters and deniers : in that i get a hint of a sniff of something like holocaust deniers as a kind of unspoken presence. Let me put aside that i detest being preached to by a teenager with fuck-all life experience and at the least state my own position on a few of these things.
First then, i fully accept the observations that the climate is changing : essentially that it’s on average warmer now than it was say 20 years ago. I’m also happy that the evidence of effects is pretty solid , for example shrinkage of glaciers, desertification and so on. It also seems pretty clear that human activity ‘has some effect’ both positive and negative..probably greater and by that i mean more likely than less to be a factor although perhaps not the primary one. That’s because the evidence also points to the earth having natural warm/cold cycles and that we just happen to be here right now in an interglacial period : perhaps even coming towards the end of this one and perhaps, as the saying goes “winter is coming”.
From there i begin to run into problems : practical problems because i’m essentially a practical person and i for one then start to ask “so what can the individual actually do” and i add “that is actually doing something rather than just being seen to do something”….you see where it goes for people like me. Here i honestly don’t have any practical answers other than things that just happen to be the way i live anyway : small house, no car, fairly frugal, make and mend rather than throw away, as a sailor though i have to admit that it’s just so much pissing in the ocean when set against what nation sized entities are doing.
The message is a problem : i spent some time and watched/listened to what our Tintin had to say and it was a depressingly simplistic, reductionist and essentially nihiliist message, something like “be scared, be very scared, be very scared right now…..with a little bit of “we don’t need no education” thrown in. The problem for my generation is that more fear doesn’t wash and that we respect education, genuine science and real technology. You see Ms Thunberg it’s very hard to scare my generation (ok ok spot the old-guy cultural references time) because you see we actually grew up just after one war of ideological annhilation and lived through the aftermath in which immediate and catastrophic nuclear war really was likely. Set against that, that it’s a bit warmer this year then last and that we’ve had ice ages in the past is a bit ‘so what’ !
Sometimes i think that the generation gap here just comes down to our actual fear of nuclear annhilation in the heady 60’s and today’s fear : the younger generation, seem to be scared of the weather….is that all it is ?, kids and their fear needing the ultimate safe-space of an unchanging planet. Fear and anxiety by the way are a large feature of autism so it might just come down to one scared kid and her parents that are encouraging that fear : my generation would just go out and ‘fight the dragon’ as JBP so brilliantly puts it.
Me, and many of my generation get called cynics and nihilists when in fact it was our generation that had the loftiest ideals, and the best music….we really did reach for the stars and go stand on the moon in a magnificent achievement, equally we saw it all go sour in places like Vietnam and Woodstock.
Rule no 6 then, as taken from JBP’s 12 rules for life.
“Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”
In the book , which i thoroughly recommend everyone read, chapter 6 is a searing, almost visceral read. Peterson doesn’t mention it although i think that it also hangs on a biblical concept and one that i grew up with : from the gospel of Luke…
“How can you say, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while you yourself fail to see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
And then this….from Romans
“You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
This cuts so many ways that it’s even hard to know where to begin : it has a personal level, one that applies to the central character here and those of her supporters who are ‘on message’ and preaching to others….and the very act itself seems deeply hypocritical ….hypocrisy at an almost political level. I thought long and hard on this : at least as long and hard as i could with antifouling scrapings in my hair and eyes !, i for one keep coming back to the thought and questions “have i got my house in order’….”am i just judging and therefore rightfully being judged” because i do the same things ?
Still though, i can’t get away from the instinct that tells me i am being preached at by hypocrites and that this is somebody else’s agenda, that there’s manipulation and fear-mongering for its own sake happening here.
Rule no 7
Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
For me this is where it gets serious and where i think we need to recognise the real from the fake and the short-attention media scoop from the long haul. There isn’t and isn’t going to be an instant and easy fix to the problems that the human race now faces. Nor is the central problem simple although it could just be the case, as it will be one day, that we will go into another ice age that will last for thousands of years : that will be a real bummer as us old hippies say !
For sure it is quick, satisfying and expedient for a precocious brat of a 16 year old to stand on the world stage , if only briefly, and revel in all that attention. It’s convenient and expedient, but desperately ignorant to then say that she doesn’t need education, while at the same time trying to educate my generation….honestly….really ?
Protesting climate change is easy and ‘on message’ too, just wear black, hide behind a face mask and go join the join the antifa arseholes throwing rocks in the city centre…all those stupid white male capitalists must be responsible for everything from actual climate change to all of the convenient add-ons. We even see that in the sailing social media sites : one moment its climate change, the next it’s oceanic trash which is all our fault.
Did i ever tell you this story about trash and ocean sailing….so anyway there we were doing a transatlantic crossing in readiness for a Caribbean charter season : being good little boaters we diligently bagged our trash and had it collected when we got ashore in Ste Maarten. Do you know what happens to trash there ?…..probably not….well it’s simply chucked over the cliff and the bags are ripped apart by the seagulls and most of the crucial plastics end up back in the sea.
It is meaningful to make small changes but then keep quiet about them, it is meaningful to spend years studying, to hone the mind and maybe spend a lifetime working on one small thing that might just be one part of the puzzle. I applaud those who are working on genuinely clean energy, nuclear fusion for example : that’s big science and can’t ever be achieved by standing on a stage mouthing other peoples words. Of course not all of us, very few in fact, are capable of working at the cutting edge of science…..well then, it’s also meaningful to do any of the small things that might make a difference even if that is only to honestly discuss the problems without immediately labelling the sceptics as haters, trolls, extreme right wing gun toting good ol boys or whetever.
I’m deeply concerned with the politics of this, that it’s splitting down ideological lines just like identity politics, feminism and intersectionality ……and just as toxic. It does seem impossible to have intelligent discussion , in fact any hint of criticism of Ms Thunberg is to be immediately attacked in return as a “how dare you”….criticise a young, vulnerable , mentally unstable and autistic female….doesn’t that just hit every intersectional marker other than ‘person of colour’ and LGBT ?….just imagine if this was a ……no don’t, unless you have a bucket to hand.
Ms Thunberg isn’t actually doing anything except shouting at a few politicians and maybe keeping a few deluded children out of school. She doesn’t offer any actual solutions, she is said to be anxious and depressed, have an eating disorder on top of everything else and that’s sad for sure. I’m not convinced that we, in the west, need any more awareness than we already have, i happen to think we would be better off without the moralising and cult like state of the regressive climate change believers…..it’s a bit like the new religion but without the nice buildings and great art .
I started this piece not knowing where i was going and that what i wanted to do was to just clear my head of this dreck and get on with my writing. I write to think and on this one all that i have done is circled back to my first thoughts and not come to any resolution. All i can say right now is that iv’e got a face-full of old antifouling , my back aches and i need a coffee and that i haven’t got any further with all of this other than to say that it all still seems false, heavily manipulated and still has that jarring after-taste of BS.