We Are Saners


We demand an immediate worldwide emergency program, led by climate scientists, to slash fossil fuels, end climate abuse and repair our planet.

Fear and Action

Be So Good They Can't Ignore You

Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash

Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash

The psychology of ordinary people becoming a movement and rescuing the climate.

As a kid, I thought I couldn’t do much of anything. I was the youngest of four, and as I watched my older siblings go out into the world and do grownup things like getting jobs and dates, I kind of hid in my room. I tried to avoid the world and just exercise my imagination.

I enjoyed that. My ambition was to get a boring job, stay there for 50 years and when I got home, to do creative things — write, draw, invent. Today, in the final quarter of my life, deep in my heart, that’s still what I want.

But something happened along the way. The simple life I sought became unreachable. Despite my diligence and loyalty as a worker, I never landed that steady boring job. Indeed, the world in which those steady boring jobs existed disappeared.

I had no choice but to try something. I was worried. I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know what I needed to do to make a living, build relationships, to be a part of the world. I was, and remain, an introvert and somewhat of a loner.

Somewhere along the way, I made a few decisions:

  1. Try to live a lifetime free of regret, and
  2. Blast through my limits, and reach for what seems impossible

I began doing crazy, daring things — not because I was brave, but because I felt I had no choice.

What did I do? I can’t remember everything, but here’s an example…

In college, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. It was the Watergate era, and nothing seemed more exciting than investigative journalism. But I had been a mediocre student (in my first two years of college, I was pretty lost and didn’t try very hard), and I had done little that showed promise in journalism. I had written concert reviews for the alternative college newspaper, and did the news on the college radio station. That consisted of re-writing teletype reports from UPA and AP and reading them on the air.

So, I asked myself: what COULD I do that would make me a real force in journalism, a somebody? And the answer came: I could break news on the biggest story in the country, the Iran hostage crisis. Or rather, WE could.

With friends from the radio station, we drove from Long Island into New York City and went straight to the main branch of the New York Public Library. There, we located an Iranian phone book. We needed the number of the American embassy in Tehran, where some of the American hostages were being held. We found the phone book. And, because it was New York, we quickly found an Iranian who could read Farsi, and get us the number.

Well, we called the embassy. And for a few minutes, we were taping as I spoke on the phone with the people who held the hostages. But I failed to persuade them to put a hostage on the phone. My big story was a bust.

But I realized that these kind of things, big and unexpected things WERE possible. I was disappointed, but not discouraged. This “failure” opened up a world of possibilities.

I went on to achieve and fail at various unexpected things. I was always working on a “hail mary” pass — a big consequential project. I may describe these in future Medium posts, but I need to get to the point.

Fear Disappears Into An Inspiring Challenge

When I think about myself, that I am actually doing these things, I tend to freeze. Somehow, I often keep going. But it’s a slog.

But when “I” becomes “we” — well that’s different. Working with other people who care, who try things, who are willing to fumble for great challenges, I become a different person. I disappear — which isn’t scary, but exhilarating — and do what would normally seem impossible. I co-found one of the first web development companies in Philadelphia. I collect museum quality historic space memorabilia. I meet and chat with important, accomplished and famous people.

Today, I live on a world that seems to be dying. Instead of feeling lost and powerless, I feel that we have possibilities with no limits. I don’t just feel this, I know this from personal experience. It’s visceral and real.

My current, and probably final, big project is to work with others to stabilize the climate and build a better, more humane society. Leaders everywhere are failing, indeed have failed, to meet the challenge. Our species is racing at full speed towards disaster.

This is true despite all the noise about Net Zero and the Paris Agreement and Clean Energy Transitions. The hollowness of these claims of progress, that markets will save us, or Elon Musk will save us, or whatever — they are nonsense; sound and fury signifying nothing.

If ANYONE Ever Did It, WE Can Do It

I don’t believe in the Great Leaders theory of history. I believe, and have seen, that history is often made by ordinary people, inspired by a cause and a vision. In the news, if it bleeds it leads, but wonderful things can happen in the world IF we do the work.

The best and most consequential events, and the acts of ordinary people…well, those don’t often make the news. But, these kind of events, by ordinary people working together, are sometimes so big that they DO make the news.

But the narrative is that these ordinary people do not shape events; the Soviet Union wasn’t demolished by ordinary people who refused to go along with that dismal institution — it was geopolitical events by “Great Men” like Reagan and Gorbachev. Kennedy and Johnson signed Civil Rights Acts, and a movement led by a dynamic Martin Luther King changed the country — not anonymous activists sitting at lunch counters, or taking part in long-forgotten events that didn’t make the history books.

That narrative is false. The truth terrifies the powerful, and so they belittle the truth, re-write the truth. Authorities want us to believe that WE are powerless. But the exact opposite is the truth.

To hold power, legitimately or not, requires dedicated support and obedience of many, many people. National leaders need substantial support by the military, by media, by religion, and by ordinary people like us. Remove a few of these pillars of support, and power disappears.

WE are the power. We need to realize this, truly understand this power, and to wield it as a force for good. We need to use this power as a community, using a determined non-violent disobedience, removing our support for anything evil, and speaking out clearly and doggedly about what is true and necessary.

The truth is, our leaders EVERYWHERE will not and cannot save us. For whatever reason. This is true regardless of the personal merits or flaws of any individual leader. Clearly, for such widespread on ongoing failure, the failure must be systemic. It is a deep failure.

No big shot leader can overcome this. Few even want to. Most of those people are obsessed with power and wealth. WE, on the other hand, have the power and ability to save the planet from climate collapse, to ensure that our children and grandchildren live in a better society than this one.

This is now my great cause. This can also be YOUR great cause. We cannot wait for “Great Men.” There are no Great Men. The people who can (and must) save us is US.

There is a way forward. Gandhi and King didn’t do it all — but they showed the way. The forgotten people — ordinary Indians and Americans — did the work and made the changes real. The people who overthrew Serbian dictator Milosevic created a group called CANVAS that describes the principles of successful movements.

Co-founder of CANVAS describes principles of successful non-violent movements

Our movement, The Saners, the consequential movement to create a beautiful future, must be guided by these principles. We need people who care, people with imaginations, people who draw strength and courage from each other. Ordinary people who have the potential to do great things.

We need you.

Read about the principles of successful movements or watch the videos produced by CANVAS. And then, sign up for our email list at WeAreSaners.org.

Don’t just live in the world. Change it. Save it. Do the impossible. We absolutely CAN do this.