Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Suffusing our world with positivity

How you say it is as important as what you say.

We all want to live in a peaceful, ecologically conscious, thoughtful, and sustainable world. I do not think anyone would disagree with that. This means that we do not live in the world we envision; of course, all the evidence point in the opposite direction. Given all the massive challenges we face, it is difficult not to think that they are "too big" for each one of us as individuals or small communities to address. But we absolutely need to be doing something, anything at this point. Here are two ways we can use our words and our energy to encourage people.

First way:
Humans are altering the Earth's climate irreparably. Our energy sources are at the same time threatening national security, as well as causing global warming. We need to use less energy. We need to cut down on transportation. We need to eat less meat. We need to learn how to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. The government is being blocked by corporations from regulating industry. Stop buying things. Stop doing things just because you can. Needs and wants are completely different. Stick with the needs.

Second way:
We must reimagine the world we live in. We can be neighbourly, build community, build resiliency, and build hope by eating locally. Get to know your farmer, and your neighbour. Growing your own food and vegetables, tending a garden is an act of kindness and care. It is proven that being outdoors, appreciating the space and time you are in can reduce the stresses of this culture. How might this kindness and care and compassion unfold into other parts of your life and world? How might a peaceable mind interact in situations of dissonance? If you find peace in yourself, how do you react to inequality and oppression? If you appreciate the space and time you are in, how does that affect your choices?

I agree completely with everything in the first way of saying things. But, I am getting at the exact same things with the second way--the way in which we live and interact with each other, and this Earth must fundamentally change. Of course evidence to support massive changes in our lives helps, and knowing what changes to make helps, too. But, can we empower people to make these changes themselves and see tangible changes in their lives? Or do we, in a sense, bully those that need to change the way they live into thinking that "we are right" and "they are wrong"?

The more and more I think about it, it is not as if I think that the powerful have acted innocently, or there is no blame to be put on us for continuing to feed the system and live beyond our means (case in point: debt). But what we advocate, what we say, what we encourage people to do in light of the evidence is in no way suffusing their lives with meaning, purpose, and place. Saying positive things is much better than a ban, although bans are necessary. But I would love it if things didn't come to a ban. So, can we act and advocate in a way that gives us confidence in the choices people make? A well-trained child needs not to be kept on a leash, but rather let free on the world with faith and trust that she will do well. Appreciating the here and now, and everything we have means that we are not compelled to constantly surround myself with new objects with planned obsolescence built into them.

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