There’s this scene in Smoke Signals, this native movie, where the main character’s mother is grieving and she says something like “my heart is in the living room and my brain is in the kitchen and my feet are out in the yard.”
That’s sort of how I’m feeling coming home from Scotland, from COP26.
My brain is in Glasgow, and my heart is in pieces with Indigenous women that I met with beautiful songs and sad stories and my feet are in San Antonio.
I’ve been reading every article that comes out analyzing what happened in Glasgow, everything from the most cynical opinion to the most hopeful.
And I still don’t know how to feel.
I’m still too close to it, and too tired. I need to drink more water, sleep a few more nights, so it feels too early to write this reflection.
I don’t think most Indigenous people go to COP looking for the solutions or depending too much on the conversations or agreements that come out of it.
I know I didn’t.
I went to COP looking for people, and I found them.
I went to tell a story about what was happening and what happened and what is next.
So this is the story:
Our governments are not coming to save us. They are afraid. They are afraid of the fossil fuel industry and those who have grown wealthy on pulling,
More and more wealth from the ground.
They are afraid.
They are too afraid to make the commitments that we need them to make.
We have to save ourselves.
We cannot disengage from these conversations, even though they are so frustrating and tiring. We need people in power to do better. We need them to hold corporations, the wealthy and the powerful, accountable.
We need to stay in the room, but we need to know when to step out and recharge. We have to do everything we can do as individuals to create the world we want to live in. Even if our individual choices are not what’s driving the climate crisis, I think we have to do better to show ourselves that it’s possible to do this all differently.
I know I have to do more, but I also know that this is a marathon and I need to build in time for joy and celebration and building something with my people.
We can all do more. We have to do more. More than we think we can.
But more than anything, we have to work together. We have to support each other. We have to watch each other’s kids and feed each other and go to COP and walk until we feel like we might collapse and get frustrated and angry and then take a whole day where we do nothing but read in the sun so we can have the energy to do it again.
The governments of the world are too afraid to do anything big, but we cannot afford to be.
If you need inspiration, read this. http://www.auroralevinsmorales.com/blog/vahavta
And keep walking.
Ashley Fairbanks is the Creative Director of 100% Campaign. She is a member of Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 Delegation. She is a passionate organizer for issues like stopping the Line 3 pipeline, Indigenous rights, and police abolition. Learn more about Ashley.