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Sets and their Settings

From development to climate change... and beyond


The Development Set
in the original version by Ross Coggins
(Adult Education and Development, September 1976)


The Climate Change Set
adapted from the original version, with apologies to Ross Coggins,
in the light of experience of the Development Set

Excuse me, friends, I did catch my jet
When off to join the Development Set;
My bags were packed, and I'd had all my shots
I had traveller's checks and pills for the trots!

The Development Set was bright and noble
Our thoughts were deep and our vision global;
Although we moved with the better classes
Our thoughts were always with the masses.
In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damned multi-national corporations;
injustice seemed easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.
We discussed malnutrition over steaks
And planned hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We faced each issue with open mouth.
We brought in consultants whose circumlocution
Raised difficulties for every solution --
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.
The language of the Development Set
Stretched the English alphabet;
We used swell words like "epigenetic"
"Micro", "macro", and "logarithmetic"
It pleasured us to be esoteric --
It was so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies were much improved.
When talk got deep and you're feeling numb,
You could keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, were intelligent
By asking smugly, "Is it really development?"
Or saying, "That's fine in practice, but don't you see:
It doesn't work out in theory!"
A few may have found this incomprehensible,
But most admired you as deep and sensible.
Development Set homes were extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs did subtly assure
That your host was at home with great and poor.
Enough of these verses -- reconsider the mission!
Our task was as broad as the human condition!
We prayed god the biblical promise was true:
The poor ye shall indeed always have with you.

Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I'm off to join the Climate Change Set;
My bags are packed, and I've had all my shots
I have traveller's checks and pills for the trots!

The Climate Change Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with emission gases.
In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn the hyper-emitting nations;
pollution seems easy to protest
In such reeking hotbeds of gaseous unrest.
We discuss methane emission over steaks
And plan carbon trading during smoking breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.
We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution --
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.
The language of the Climate Change Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like "epigenetic"
"Micro", "macro", and "logarithmetic"
It pleasures us to be esoteric --
It's so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.
When talk gets deep and you're feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
By asking smugly, "Is the longer term irrelevant?"
Or say, "That's fine in practice, but don't you see:
It doesn't work out in theory!"
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.
Climate Change homes exude eco-chic,
With injunctions, advice, and free of auto-critique.
Options in evidence are very low-cal
Your host is at home with global and local.
Enough of these verses -- reconsider the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
Problems ye shall indeed always have with you.
 
Conclusion?
If it is not proving possible to respond effectively to a longer-term challenge -- like "development"
A greater sense of achievement may be derived from focusing on a shorter-term challenge -- like "climate change".
By framing the latter as more dramatically urgent, the former may be quietly forgotten
-- together with any reasons why action was not effective.
The pattern may then be repeated as though it had never been experienced before.
But how urgent will the next challenge then have to be -- to sustain the process?
***
Although those who cannot remember the past
may be condemned to repeat it, re-membrance of it may be valuable
in enabling its processes to be replicated at a subtler level
Albert Einstein: 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

Climate Change as a Metaphor of Social Change
Climate of Change Misrepresented as Climate Change
Climate Change and the Elephant in the Living Room


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