So it’s Superbowl Sunday in the US, a day that millions of Americans look forward to for months. I am always amazed at the passion with which sports fans engage in following teams, and I often think: if only we could harness that energy, dedication and drive and put it towards more important things like saving the planet, why, we’d do just that, right away!
If even a fraction of the money spent on sports teams, sports telecasting, sports advertising and sports merchandise were put towards improving children’s education, nutrition and health worldwide, we’d make giant strides towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
If we could get fans to analyze climate and biodiversity statistics the way they analyze the minutia of sports wins and losses, what a brain trust we could call upon to solve the pressing environmental problems of our time!
In the 21st century, the same goes for video game aficionados. When I hear teenage boys talking with such enthusiasm about the latest iteration of World of War or Grand Theft Auto, I think wistfully that if only they were as engaged with the real, natural world as they are with these violent artificial environments, their incredible warrior energy could be channeled to such positive purposes.
No amount of wishful thinking is going to change the fact that testosterone and aggressive energy go together. But aggressive energy does not have to be used to hurt people or destroy animals and the environment. Aggressive energy does not have to be hierarchical, meaning that I can only raise myself up by pushing you down.
The truth is that the multiple crises that are staring us in the face right now need aggressive, bold tactics to solve. Putting the brakes on global heating, shifting to renewable energy, ending our romance with biochemically engineered agriculture and halting the deforestation of the great lungs of our planet will take all the creativity, ingenuity and yes, aggressive, take-charge energy that we can muster as a species.
It will also take something that the testosterone-fueled among us are less proficient at: collaboration, negotiation, cooperation. That’s where we women come in.
I recently noticed a tweet from Desmond Tutu to Nick Kristof, two men for whom I have the highest admiration, in which the archbishop said to the journalist that if women were given more political power, the world would be a safer, more peaceful place.
We need our menfolk to fight for our species, and indeed our entire planetary ecosystem, with the same kind of enthusiastic passion that they lavish on sports and video games.
And we need our womenfolk to insist on getting engaged at every level of politics, business and education, not as token men, but true to our own deepest, estrogen-driven instincts for nurturing communities and societies.
On this Superbowl Sunday, I call on Americans to think about the bigger picture. How important will it be which team wins or loses once climate change starts taking us all down?