422: Adam Hochschild, part 1: Abolition and Sustainability

December 12, 2020 by Joshua
in Podcast

Of Adams’ earlier books, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves changed my approach to sustainability—my hopes, expectations, role models, strategies, . . .  a lot. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN USA Literary Award, the Gold Medal of the California Book Awards, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

His stories recount people righting unfair situations. You’ll hear how the British abolitionists of the late 1700s and early 1800s took on and overcame the most profitable industries funding the largest empire the world had ever seen. No other situation connects to our environmental situation as much as it does. We’re desperate for role models. Reading his book felt like coming home for me.

All the excuses we hear today applied then—if we don’t the French and Spanish will, the Africans benefit from it, it’s impossible to change even if you want to, are you crazy?, what one person does doesn’t matter. Yet they looked across the ocean, saw people suffering from a system they participated in, and decided they couldn’t participate. On the contrary, they made it their life missions to end that trade, what I have done regarding today’s pollution.

Few people know the story. Those who do usually know William Wilberforce’s name most. Adam writes about the community most of all, but Thomas Clarkson as the main organizer and force. For more detail listen. Beyond the details, I hope you’ll see the historical precedence for people with less resources than you taking on an industry as strong as one you want to take on and succeeding.

Watch a movie like The Story of Plastic to see the suffering our system causes. Read Industrial Strength Denial. If you want meaning and purpose in your life, you can do today what they did then today.

What would you rather do? What do you want your gravestone to say? Whatever holds you back applied to them more. They did it. We can too. If you’re not sure specifically what to do, contact me. There’s plenty.

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