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The Climate Movement Must Learn from Larry Kramer’s Fearless Truth Telling

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/17/climate-movement-must-learn-larry-kramers-fearless-truth-telling


If we just gave trillions of dollars to industries to keep them afloat despite their causing most of the climate emergency we’re in; then what chance is there that our government (and other governments) will voluntarily defund these polluting industries?

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Maybe we need to start broadcasting an updated version of Kramer’s slogan: SILENCE = EXTINCTION ?!


This is such an important piece! Thank you for describing the effectiveness of Larry Kramer’s spirit/soul based, compassionate based and of utmost importance— TRUTH based messaging. Yes! We need this in the climate movement and beyond.

I hope there is a lot of discussion here in the comments section and that this piece is spread around as much as possible.

And I wish I had time to put all my thoughts down about this piece but I am going to shut off the computer soon and head off to enjoy one of the miraculously beautiful, yet imperiled Great Lakes today.

I have lost friends and quickly scared away potentially new friends due to my truth telling. But I can’t live a lie and believe with all my being that people need to have the truth brought into the light ( and processed in their brains/hearts) as opposed to continuing their repression/denial of truth which leads to countless psychological problems and exacerbates the climate/ecosystems collapsing emergencies we are in.

Some people can be taught (even in their adult years) to appreciate the wonders of the nonhuman world, learn to love and revere them and then hopefully have the courage to defend/protect them. And hopefully make the connection that if the insects, coral reefs/oceans die, we will die too.

I believe fear is useful and that fear and courage can go hand in hand.

Obviously fear not based in reality (like trump’s insistence on a wall as but one of many examples) can be highly damaging. But we have the facts literally flooding, burning, seeping in and around our bodies and places where we live.

I could go on and wish I had time because this article gets to the heart of why humans may go the path of extinction . . .

Thank you Margaret Klein Salamon!


Caroline: your posts as always hit the mark. I realized at a fairly early age that human beings were self-centered, dangerous creatures individually. In groups, we are murderous. What forces are out there that can increase human self-awareness and empathy in time to head off extinction, which is where we are heading? The “people’s” individual and collective decisions are why we have reached this juncture. What grounds are there to believe that these same people are going to behave in an enlightened way? Why do Chris Hedges (and we) still hold out an almost unsupportable hope that “the people” will awaken and engage in a revolution of civil disobedience, etc.?? I have retreated into a kind of “Buddhism,” treating people with as much care and kindness as I can, but without holding out any hope for social change. I really doubt the learning capacities of people . . . .


The truth won’t set you free

But without it, you will never shed your shackles


I am doing everything I can as such. I am also writing a song, trying to take risks and be open to let the music and lyrics be more powerful… using as much vulnerability as I can get away with…!
For as your essay implies - we have to do anything that works!
But I am already impassioned when talking with peope and they smile, but their energy does not want to get bothered by it. I see their being and feel it immediately :frowning: :open_mouth: :-they don’t want to know, ultimately.
I think that a kind of forensic dialogue seems the way; nor in an arrogant way of ‘when-will-u-see-what-I-know!?!’, but like my colleagues in XR (Nottingham, UK), in all humility, probably like you Margaret, I Know I am in touch with reality. It is humble, but clear…
The BRIDGE that we need to forge is From the science- the excellent, clear and concluisive science -to the general public (-& in all countries!)! Like with this Covid time, they will act, most people did -in Europe, over 90% complied with the rules -cos it made sense to them!
In Britain they put leaflets through all households doors about it in late March; this is kinda what is needed for this climate emergency!
In the meantime, we are so insane, as you say or imply… It is Unthinkable!!
Thank you for all the work that you do, and keep on getting stronger, deeper, bolder…! (And so will I… Part of that song I just wrote is
‘I will do anything it takes!
But I don’t want to die,
I am just coming into my own
-So I really don’t wanna die!’ :frowning:

We have to do this! :orange_heart::pray::shamrock::blush:

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In my own personal gallery of gurus, the name James Baldwin stands up in front to represent the phrase Fearless Truth Telling. Kramer fought the blindness and confusion of others all his life, and changed the course of history.

Baldwin was more fearless, exposing his own most deep-seated confusions and internal conflicts. All the way down to relentless ambiguities of sexual and racial identity, ticking time-release grenades of alienation from one another, seeing even oneself as the enemy. I don’t even know whether to refer to Baldwin as a USAmerican writer, as he felt as bound and unbound by this country as by any other, as I’ve come to feel.

For a life-changing example of fearless truth telling about this country, see Baldwin’s Another Country.

In another thread, @webwalk referred to this column, attempting to persuade another contributor that truth-telling, at least, should be considered essential. I’m feeling lost in space when arguments in favor of truth seem to fall on deaf ears.

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Jeff Gibbs, Michael Moore POTH = Larry Kramer
The denialism, censorship, and “leader” worship of the climate change “believers” is the worst in modern western civilization.

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I’m gonna be Larry for a moment. The Larry who during the height of the AIDS crisis dared to be unpopular with many because he spoke the truth. Many in the so-called straight community then condemned our radical ACT UP movement only to later benefit from ART therapy to save their lives. The Hippocracy! Why use the persona of Larry Kramer now in a totally different context and elevate him to hero status? Larry was a hero to me when many didn’t even want to be confronted with the horrible reality of AIDS and even more horrible politics responsibjle for countless deaths and human suffering.
Yes, admittedly, I carry a chip on my shoulders and I will only remove it with a convincing argument.
Be your own leaders. Followers will fail…


I do not think we will get out of this predicament but still come to “Common Dreams” because I feel it is a relatively safe space with “critical thinkers” (lol, but true!) to discuss the traumatizing events that are unfolding around us, to try to figure out why they are happening and for some, try to figure out what to do to stop the madness.

I’ve been struggling with what to do with “hope” that keeps creeping into my psyche in fits and starts since Derrick Jensen’s article “Beyond Hope” which he wrote for Orion magazine many years ago (yikes! I think it was 2006! 14 years ago??)

He wrote:
“Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.”

“Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.”


Carolline - thank you for that wonderful piece by Derrick Jensen. Of course, “hope” is predicated on the reasonableness of others to be persuaded by the power of arguments, by their ability to turn away from their own cruelty and sadism, in other words, by a common "humanity.’ And I have lost hope precisely because I do not believe that the majority of humans can be reached in these ways. I suppose we can go down fighting . . . .

The truth today is “we are in terrible danger and need to protect ourselves through transformative change at emergency speed” as the author said. Yesterday a Guardian article spoke more truth: if we return to the pre-pandemic level of carbon emissions that have been the result of driving less, flying less, and consuming much less, in six months game over. We simply will not be able to meet the 45% permanent reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 as required. So, the truth is that NOW is when to use our personal power and individual responsibility and drive much less, fly less, if at all, and drastically reduce buying new stuff. There is no time to wait to write another letter to a legislator, or a letter to the editor, or another rally, or a new president. NOW is the time, the only time we will have, to drastically change our lifestyles. The world reduced its carbon emissions by 17% during the shutdowns, and must continue. Or we are toast - we will not be able to stop runaway heating. Game over. That is the truth that needs to be heard in the consumer societies.

ludwig, Critical Thinker,

Governments like ours, owned by corporations and the ultra-rich, will never change voluntarily. They’ll have to be forced by massive uprisings. But even though most have been kept from knowing how serious it is, many people are already awake to the problem. The many structures and methods used by the oligarchy to deceive, manipulate, and gaslight people aren’t working as well as they used to, and activists are finding ways to educate and activate people.

Hope and despair are 2 sides of the same coin, and people flip back and forth depending on things they decide are going to determine the future. They’re fooling themselves. Buddhist practices are an excellent idea, to move away from the coin flip toward acceptance, and while psychiatrist Judith Lipton said the best therapy for despair is action, I think the best therapy is therapy, but action is a crucial way of transforming the outer world to align with our new, healthier inner world.

People, ie humans, are no more self-centered or murderous than they are altruistic and cooperative. Human nature encompasses the whole range of behavior we see. Twisted childhoods in a twisted society make people act in maladaptive ways—and those can be changed.


The IPCC was being wildly optimistic. We have 10 years or less to eliminate at least 90% of fossil fuels or we risk utter failure.

If you put the @ symbol directly in front of the other posters’ names who you are addressing in your post, then those posters will get a message that you have tagged them in your post. Like @ludwig, @CriticalThinker, @livableplanet.

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