Return to Alejandro Frid, A World for my Daughter

Though it's not unusual that I reread a book, it's unusual that I write about it again.

Almost seven years ago, I said all kinds of positive things about Alejandro Frid's A World for My Daughter: An Ecologist's Search for Optimism. This week, the book's come with me to the Okanagan as I bring my own daughter for time with her grandparents, and it's hit a little differently this time.

To be clear, I've still got only positive things to say, and I regret nothing about that first post. Genuinely, I do think many more should read A World for My Daughter, and it remains an incredibly salutary, centring book.

A key passage this time around resonated more deeply, given the April 2022 arrests globally of around a thousand scientists protesting government inaction on climate change:

"This is why colleagues and I, reluctantly, become non-traditional scientists: grounded in the traditions of scientific method and objectivity, yet increasingly engaged in the politics that will make or break our future. This is not the classic role of scientists, who, until recently, were trained to remain apolitical and let others figure out the societal implications of their data. But those times are no more. Either the proverbial lab coats his the streets with protest, en masse, or your generation will be deprived of a decent future" (p.155).

That was published seven years before these protests and arrests, though after Frid himself had been arrested a couple of times at anti-coal protests. If the coverage of these recent events hadn't been light and slow, I'd be more optimistic, but it's the kind of thing I reach for when I'm trying to feel some positive momentum.

I do wish, though, that he'd seen the coming worry about the word "resilience." After all, business writers used to sell resilience hard, but increasingly we're all realizing that the fetishizing of resilience makes a person feel even worse if you end up feeling broken by terrible events (or, worse, in fact get broken by them).

It's not that I want us to NOT be resilient, either. As ever, I remain a fan of the Resilience Institute, in part because I believe so much in one of its co-founders, who's also its CEO. It's just that we need to work harder so that extreme resilience maybe won't be a basic necessity as climate change rolls on.

Twyla Frid, incidentally, the daughter mentioned in the book's title, is still amazing and is graduating from high school now. She's involved in lots of social justice work, and has earned co-author status on ecological research undertaken with her father.

When I get home, definitely it'll be time to remedy the unaccountable oversight of not reviewing his similarly powerful, conversational, engaging Changing Tides: An Ecologist's Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene when I read it the first time. Probably this was during The Quiet, the two years of hiatus from posting here, so I'm looking forward to reading through it again.

He's been excellent company, the last few days. You should spend some time with this book, too.

(FYI, the original is my third-most popular post all-time! First place goes to a book with a cult-like following and probably had paid support, and second to a novel made into a more-or-less indie movie around the same time. This book, in other words, is probably the book I've read that's most appreciated by its readers overall.)


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