People that care about issues of the environment and social justice have a way of despairing over the dire state of affairs at our doorsteps. We hear constantly of oil spills and species going extinct and pipelines being built to carry crude from Alberta to Texas. People also continually ask, "What can I do to make a difference?" I will say that action is needed on all scales, spanning our individual lives and spirits, to our communities, regions, nations, and indeed, our cultures. But fundamentally, the change we wish to see in the world can come from nowhere else but our own lives. I wonder then, what do we choose to fill our day to day lives with?
I can understand that many people are employed, and are at some level forced to be, to pay bills and support families. Yes, we are tired by the end of the day, and want nothing more than to not think about how messed up everything is. But the energy to create change must come from somewhere, and I believe that energy can come from paying adequate attention to our spirits that have been so crushed by the drudgery of daily routine.
Plant a tree. Tend a garden. Talk to your neighbour. Go to the market and cook a meal. Go on a bike ride. Understand why someone is homeless, and buy him a hot drink. Think about what each of these activities means. Planting a tree can maybe make up for some of the carbon dioxide emissions released through burning coal. Tending a garden teaches us how delicate life is, and that without proper consideration, we are bound to obliterate the capacities of this Earth. Do you even know who your neighbour is? Going to the market introduces you to people that care about the Earth as much as you do, and are doing their part of extricating themselves from industrialisation. Going on a bike ride allows you to explore where you live, and bond with your loved ones, as well as where you live. Talking to the homeless will hopefully make you think about this unjust, unequal system of benefits to some, costs for most.
These activities are decidedly simple, yet extremely powerful. They make us realise that this world isn't only full of consumerism, planned obsolescence, corporate media, and tyrannical government, but also filled with beings that want to care and protect and preserve and conserve and live lightly on this world. Such activities invigorate our spirits and lend a hand to supporting our communities, care for our land and water and air and biophysical world. Maybe then these individual reflections unfold into grander and grander acts of activism, of subversion, of care, on larger and larger scales.
The other day, my mom told me that if we fill our lives with good, we will have no time for bad. A truer statement has not been said. (I don't want to get into discussions of what "good" and "bad" are, but if you are a regular reader of this blog, you can probably make out what good and bad mean to me.)