Finding the ‘winds in our sails’
Flexible thinking and coping with uncertainty are necessary for remaining open to the future. Introspective tools and skills are framed as internal activism. External activism is crucial to affect policy change, but equally important is the “internal work we can do to sit with difficult emotions and difficult truths and not turn away out of self-protection,” she says.
“We can hold hopefulness and hopelessness on this issue at the same time and that’s okay.”
Deciding she wanted to contribute to this emerging field, Wray is now a postdoctoral fellow at both the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, looking at the intersection of mental health and planetary health.
Wray also now has a child, a toddler named Atlas. She that says she and her partner will surround him with strong community, follow his curiosity and “be there every step of the way to hold his pain and accept his anger at us if that’s what happens — to be able to compassionately tolerate that and support him if he has a bunch of challenging feelings,” she says.
Wray has interviewed many young people for her book who feel betrayed, angry and dismissed by older generations. “You can actually tolerate these difficult emotions when they’re given a space to be digested.”
In any case, it will be Atlas’s lead, Wray says. “His generation might have a different perspective and it might be much more radically hopeful.” Wray takes hope from the outcomes of COP15, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference that took place in Montreal in December, which yielded global pledges to boost the planet’s well-being.
“This, alongside the recent news about the repair of the ozone hole, are the kinds of winds in our sails we absolutely require to keep fighting for planetary health.”