Pretentiousness alert: “Expand the cognitive frame”

So, having a conversation with a man I respect very much, we got onto the fact that people are able to get concerned very much about tangible local things that they feel able to have an opinion about, that fit into a narrative of “if we protest about this in the short-term it may be reversible”.  They are not – currently – able to worry about the Too Big stuff.

We both know this. Readers of DT know this.  So, the question is (and he and I and our friends will be trying to answer this, in action) how do you expand the cognitive and moral frame so more people get constructively outraged about other stuff that is more ‘obscure’ but also more important?

Examples, case studies, ideas all welcome…


About dwighttowers

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2 Responses to Pretentiousness alert: “Expand the cognitive frame”

  1. Jack Ellis says:

    My 6YO daughter just started a classroom focus on ‘sustainability’. Close your eyes and just imagine what that would involve – heartfelt little essays about turtles and plastic bags, grandpa’s cigarettes and littering, watering flowers and turning off lights. And that’s all good and important… But nothing sparks an activism to sustainability more strongly than learning to love something over a long time and then seeing it threatened.
    I read last week about families who stand watches over plover nests on Melbourne beaches – at great expense and effort. I’m willing to wager that none of them started with a broadbrush ‘sustainability’ and followed twisting byways from there to plovers. I’ll bet the love of those beaches – and their little birds came first, and the risk of their loss was too much to bear.

    Pissy as it sounds, the answer is love – seeing, knowing and loving the things that we stand to lose. Reading McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ and weeping over the vermiculate-patterned trout. Reading ‘Silent Spring’ and imagining a world without birdsong. Diving a reef doomed to die.

    I love my little suburban house in its suburb of leafy sprawl. The damage that it causes happens mostly elsewhere – my shit is piped away, fuel arrives at the tidy local bowser, the byproducts of my plastic crap are a long way away. Love stretches thin over a long distance; out of sight, out of mind.

    • dwighttowers says:

      Excellent – yes, all politics (green etc) is local – either physically or to an issue that you yourself care about. In a “what to do/how to get a movement going about climate change” discussion last night, someone drew a parallel to gay marriage – I said, no, doesn’t work, because people either are gay or have enough gay friends that the bigotry no longer plays so well (not all gays support the marriage thing, it’s true, but I am digressing).

      So yes, not just expanding the cognitive frame, but the frame of love, of affiliation, of “biophilia”. And dealing with – beautifully put, btw – “love stretches thin over a long distance”.

      Dwight, whose wife is down from a long distance in 35 hours. Not that he is counting or anything.

      PS Oh, an old post on “significant life experiences” that may be of interest –

      PPS Thanks for commenting!!!

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