It’s difficult to find anything coherent to say about what transpired last week when President Tweet—not himself known to be even remotely coherent—pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. It was such a shock that it’s easy to just give up: if he doesn’t get this, we think, he won’t get anything.
So I’m not going to even try to address what happened, or my feelings about it (once I sobered up, that is, from the very large Scotch I felt compelled to consume so I wouldn’t actually go and slit my throat out of shame).
But I do want to talk about something that you might not automatically associate with last week’s actions: hope.
Ever since this president and his chaotic administration’s rise to power I’ve been feeling discouraged about—well, just about everything. My writing partner (who’s Israeli and so knows a thing or two about self-serving governments) keeps asking me week after week, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything about <insert whatever is the disaster du jour>?” And I’ve found it difficult to answer him.
This time, though, I have an answer. And that answer gives me hope.
I’ve never felt warm and fuzzy about corporations (and I think that Citizens United is one of the most damaging Supreme Court rulings ever), but we’re in strange-bedfellow territory here when 25 brands, representing the top U.S. tech, power, retail, health, consumer goods, manufacturing, and financial services companies (with a combined market capitalization of over $3.2 trillion), sign a letter to the president urging him not to do what he did.
Who are they? I’m listing them here because if you’ve ever bought any of their products or used any of their services, please please please write to them and let them know that you are a customer and you appreciate this action. Yeah, they weren’t thinking of you when they signed the letter; but as I said—strange bedfellows. The companies are Adobe, Apple, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Danfoss, Dignity Health, Facebook, Gap, Google, The Hartford, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ingersoll Rand, Intel Corporation, Johnson Controls, Levi Strauss & Co., Mars Incorporated, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, National Grid, PG&E Corporation, Royal DSM, Salesforce, Schneider Electric, Tiffany & Co., Unilever, and VF Corporation.
And then there are the immediate alliances of governors and even mayors who aren’t letting the president dictate their commitment to the well-being of their communities and of the planet. At least 10 states and a slew of U.S. cities have signaled that they are committing to the Paris climate accord despite last week’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the pact.
The 10 states that have signed onto the alliance include California, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon and Hawaii. Nine other states and Washington, D.C. have also reportedly said that they plan to abide by the guidelines of the Paris agreement. Major cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia have also indicated that they will also do so as well.
I am heartened by this courageous determination to do what is right directly in the face of an administration determined to do what is wrong. This movement to stop complaining and instead act positively to do what can be done.
And that brings us back to hope, and—you’ll have guessed it, since this op-ed column is centered on Provincetown—to us.
One of my copywriting clients is a publishing house whose marketing tagline is Discover Hope. I used to think that it was a little facile, a little obvious a line. But I’ve learned since then, since last November in fact, that hope doesn’t just appear. It can be swallowed. It can be crushed. For it to live, it must be discovered, nourished, and nurtured, and it must be spread to others.
There was an environmental march a few weeks ago in Provincetown, with hundreds of people attending. You may have participated, carried a sign. You may have tooted your horn, waved, thought good things about them. What you may not know is that it was completely planned and organized via telephone and email by two people. I’ll leave you to think about that.
Discover hope. I’m starting to.