At Climate Camp, we attempted to define the values and issues and actions of the group, and a phrase I heard bandied about quite often was ’empowering people’. Climate Camp ’empower people’ to do something about the environment.
I want to shout and scream and run around where I heard this.
There is no ’empowering others’. Nobody gives power and there is no ‘taking the power back’. How does one person ’empower’ another? Is there anybody in the world who needs to petition for power? Big Oliver eyes and a begging bowl; ‘Please Sir, Can I have some more?’
Power is within us all, always, already, absolute.
We don’t need to ask anybody to empower us to start a revolution, and we don’t need to wait for anybody to empower us to start a revolution.
Climate Camp can provide information and inspiration. We can show people what they can do to help, groups they can join, petitions they can sign, direct action they can be a part of. Climate Camp cannot give anybody power.
When an inspired/influenced/educated person chooses to do something for the environment, for political prisoners, for ethical fashion or Third World drought then that person is empowering themselves. They need ask nobody’s permission to go about changing the world. The power to do was always within that person, as it is already is all of us.
There are places in the world where citizens have reduced political and economic ‘power’ but they still have it within their capacity to resist, to revolt (and to recycle), to live by their own rules within their neighbourhoods, to try. We can fight for their rights, but they own their power.
Inspire, educate, influence – but never condescend to ’empower’ another human being. We don’t need anybody’s permission to change the world.