“Make Me Care”- Changing how we talk and think about the climate crisis
3 min read
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash
My good friend, the psychologist Tony Bates has just published a powerful memoir that maps the development of mental health services in Ireland in parallel against his own life’s experience. It’s called Breaking the Heart Open and embraces the idea of mining your life story to expose and illuminate the universal. When Tony was writing it he asked me for some advice and I quoted Pixar’s Andrew Stanton, who did a wonderful TED Talk on storytelling, and says the key to storytelling is— ‘Make Me Care’.
If you want to take me into complex material, into issues, facts and data, start by thinking how do you make me care about it, and how do you make me feel this is also my story too.
See your storytelling as moving from heart to head and embracing the personal, the intimate, the human, and going from micro to macro. Engage my empathy, my curiosity and let me see myself in the story and I’ll follow you, as an audience, into layers of detail.
Communicating the realities of climate change, global warming and climate action can seem remote to our everyday lives and daily experience unless we make that transition to see the story as one where we make people care. We need to begin at the point of heart and values, at what people love, cherish and protect and connect both the impact and the action to that point of care, values and love.
A recent soundwalk with composer Robert Coleman and ornithologist /surveying ecologist Seán Ronayne in IMMA illustrated how bird song and a walk through nature can make us feel and experience before we’re told. That emotional opening allows us to listen and understand better but even more importantly to see ourselves in the story of ecological and environmental loss. To see ourselves not just in the causal factors but in the positive steps and actions which can shape solutions. We become part of the story, players and participants, rather than passive recipients watching a global event unfolding that renders us impotent.
Make me care, and show me how I can contribute, how I can change, how I can help. Engage my heart, inform my head and offer me a pathway, or pathways, to allow me to respond. When we talk about climate change, talk first about ourselves, what has changed or provoked us, make it personal and make it matter. See it as a conversation rather than a communication. See the small details of the fabric of our everyday lives as the essence of the story. Make it relate to the values of the audience — whether one person in your family or friends, a group or even a policy-maker. Make it relevant to what they love and cherish; what matters to them.
Empower them to move forward and act.