Gravitas – high seriousness (as in a person’s bearing or in the treatment of a subject); a person who is a deep thinker
In the world of words I do not know, this one happened into my life at an interesting moment. My previous blog post, What Everybody Echoes, talked about how, for much of my life, I was influenced by advertising and television because I did not engage with critical thinking. Gravitas is the remedy for that. Actually, gravitas is the remedy for much of what ails the world.
Today I listened to a podcast about the movement behind the idea Nature needs half. The thinking is that neoliberalism has done severe damage to the world and the environment. The current world political and economic climates have made some people begin to take stock of those effects and are looking for a new way of being. Indigenous rights, scientific research on climate change and a society where nothing is certain are coming together in this perfect storm and generating interest in changing the world to be inclusive of everything and everyone. There is acknowledgement that progress is going to happen but it needs to be done in a way that considers all the players – in northern BC for example, where Indigenous interests have always been to maintain more for Mother Earth than for capitalism (read: pipelines). This is a template that can be utilized around the province, the country and the world. A template for securing at least half of land, water and air ‘for nature’.
The podcast today, The Sunday Edition, gave an interesting example of people and commercialism working alongside nature. In Banff National Park, there are underpasses and bridges dotting Park highways with the intent of allowing animals to safely move from one area to another – no animals or humans are harmed and traffic continues to flow. This idea, around for more than two decades, is being utilized in various places around the world, from California to Argentina – in place there to help keep jaguars safe. Although this is an exemplary Canadian practice, in truth our nation is not meeting global targets for land protection; many less ‘developed’ countries have better policies and adherence to environmental protection.
So, what the heck does this have to do with gravitas? This is an issue that requires it – serious thought, serious action. As I said, gravitas can help to solve world issues. We can do much in our day to day by way of action: I am sitting in a house with solar panels covering most of the roof, we have an electric car. We use limited energy except at off peak times, we try hard to cycle or walk whenever we can. Part of this is to compensate for the ways in which we are not kind to our environment: we fly frequently for instance. Yet, we all need to do some serious thinking about local, regional and global issues and support changes that will make it possible to return to the idea of giving nature its due.
Gravitas, that ability to think and act seriously, are important when it comes to the environment, when it comes to figuring out ways to live in a world that is in trouble, both environmentally, politically and economically.
Yet, to enjoy life also takes a form of gravitas: serious effort. We need to find ways to get out into the world and enjoy and care for nature, be appreciative for what is still safe. We need to give serious thought to finding ways to lower the rhetoric and reach out to those people, places and aspects of societies which have been marginalized by the way the world has been operating.