Saying No

Intelligently, in ways that reopen the gate to the future…

Dr Louis Arnoux
16 min readFeb 13, 2022


The challenge to say NO

In 2014, as part of that year’s Day of Remembrance of genocides and of prevention of crimes against humanity, Bernard Girard, a history teacher, questioned “the obedience of entire societies… and the inability of individuals to say no when they should have said so.”[1]

Much earlier Leo Tolstoy had written:

“One man does not assert the truth which he knows, because he feels himself bound to the people with whom he is engaged;

another, because the truth might deprive him of the profitable position by which he maintains his family;

a third, because he desires to attain reputation and authority, and then use them in the service of mankind;

a fourth, because he does not wish to destroy old sacred traditions;

a fifth, because he has no desire to offend people;

a sixth, because the expression of the truth would arouse persecution, and disturb the excellent social activity to which he has devoted himself…”[2]

Over a century later, the situation has gone much, much worse. Nowadays, everybody has become so busy, most often to try and make ends meet, while a few earn many livings non-stop, most often isolated, facing a computer or smart phone screen, entangled in “social media” that prevent actual direct dialogue with others, that almost no one has any time left to take stock and say NO, or if and when we do it is about disparate matters, in inchoate ways that tumble into cacophonies…

Let’s say that the core challenge of our time, the challenge we all must face, is to become lucid, fully conscious of what most of the time most of us ignore or are blind to and to say NO, a resolute, uncompromising NO, to all contemporary trends and processes that are demonstrably not viable.

This goes much beyond the current impotence of global elites to deal effectively with the Climate Emergency and everything else that young ones like Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future or Extinction Rebellion endlessly protest about. None of their many protests succeeds in changing anything. It’s not that their protests are not…



Dr Louis Arnoux

Louis is the catalyst and main author for the Fourth Transition Initiative and Cool Planet Foundation.