Between 1986 and her death in 2001, Donella Meadows wrote a weekly column, The Global Citizen. These columns–well over 700 of them!–were syndicated by 20 newspapers nationwide, published in other independent journals, and even eventually collected into a book. Each of them addressed a different issue of political, environmental, or social importance, from the need for campaign reform to the Endangered Species Act, the Gross Domestic Product to the ubiquity of advertising. In each, Donella Meadows never flinched from the difficult topic at hand, but she addressed them with a sense of hope, caring, and compassion. As Hannah Jacobs, one of Dana’s students, remarked, “I grew up with the words of Dana Meadows. Published faithfully each week in the Keene Sentinel, the newspaper of the town where I went to school, her writing was a source of hope and inspiration to the community.”
Thousands of others reading Dana’s columns across the world experienced that same sense of inspiration. It can be summed up well with Dana’s own words, from the final Global Citizens column she wrote before her death:
There’s only one thing I do know. If we believe that it’s effectively over, that we are fatally flawed, that the most greedy and short-sighted among us will always be permitted to rule, that we can never constrain our consumption and destruction, that each of us is too small and helpless to do anything, that we should just give up and enjoy our SUVs while they last, well, then yes, it’s over. That’s the one way of believing and behaving that gives us a guaranteed outcome.
Personally I don’t believe that stuff at all. I don’t see myself or the people around me as fatally flawed…We are not helpless and there is nothing wrong with us except the strange belief that we are helpless and there’s something wrong with us. All we need to do, for the bear and ourselves, is to stop letting that belief paralyze our minds, hearts, and souls.
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