The last week & a half, I have spent a certain amount of time over at Trafalgar Square, where a bunch of awesome people have been camping out for the duration of the Copenhagen talks. I've been going to and from, and doing some useful things, but I haven't been camping out, for a couple of reasons*.
What I've noticed is the amount of guilt I have about that decision and the way I want to justify or explain it to other people. I worry that the people camping out there -- many of whom I have a lot of respect for -- will be thinking less of me for that choice. (I should note that no one has in fact indicated, in word or deed, anything of the sort.)
But in truth, it's more about my own attitude. I don't entirely trust my own decision; part of me thinks that if I were really dedicated, or if I were stronger, or if... then I would be down there in my tent.
Which is nonsense. I am, in fact, competent to make decisions about my own abilities and what I can sustainably do. More to the point, it is OK for what I can sustainably do, and what other people can sustainably do, to be different. And just as I wouldn't (and don't) judge other people on what they feel able to do, other people are not in fact going to judge me (and if they did, then that would be a sign that perhaps they're not people I respect after all). In particular, my experience of Climate Camp is that there genuinely is an enormous amount of respect for everyone's individual comfort levels.
This ties in to two things I've been thinking about of late: my tendency to judge myself unduly harshly, and my ongoing concern about the judgements of others (rather than relying on my own beliefs). I think those things are perhaps more closely related than I believe them to be; my fears about the opinions of others reflecting my self-doubt.
I genuinely believe that sustainable communities need to recognise individual abilities and needs. And for that to work, it has to operate both internally and externally; after all, if you can't be fair and kind to yourself, then how can you let other people be fair and kind to you, or believe them when they are?
* Which I'm deliberately not specifying because as per above, I am trying to avoid the need to externally self-justify.