Saturday, August 20, 2011

The path from here to there

I question myself at times. Am I doing enough to combat the problems I see in the world? I know I am not, because if I were, I would hope to see much less strife around me. And thinking that I am doing enough can lead to a moral stagnancy and a privileged complacency. Such thoughts are rife with entitlement. Of course there is a sense of satisfaction in small steps. But where we need to be isn't a quantum step from here, but rather a paradigm shift from here. Where "there" is is unclear, particularly because while I can envision a small farm being self-sufficient, the scale of the problems cannot be solved by envisioning a small farm somewhere. We need small farms, of course, but we also need massive structural changes around the world. How can this happen? What is the path from here to there? There are likely an infinite number of paths from here to there, but they all fundamentally need to be founded on a new ethic of our place in the world, the articulation of which is this blog's primary goal.

The journey that I believe we must all be involved in is one of observing, introspecting, changing the self, and then projecting the self outwards. Let me explain a little bit more. We must first face the world openly, and be open to being affected by it. We cannot disconnect ourselves from what we observe and the emotions it evokes in us. That means being affected by observing a homeless person, and being affected by observing the dumping of chemicals in rivers, and being affected by observing discrimination. Such observation allows us to question underlying assumptions we have about the world, and how we are complicit in those outcomes (homelessness, pollution, discrimination, etc.). In the beginning and in the end, it is us who add or subtract legitimacy to structures that perpetuate these problems. I believe this introspection is absolutely essential. The changes we wish to see in the world can come from nowhere else but from our own lives. We must question our morals and ethics, and put ourselves in other people's shoes, not the shoes of the elite and privileged, but those of the oppressed and disenfranchised. Where we go from this point on is a matter of responsibility. As I said previously, for those of us who have realised and understood the degrading effects of this culture, we cannot let others not know. There must be a projection of ourselves outwards. Only this will allow change on the scale that is needed, a scale which is larger than ourselves, but guided and influenced by changes in our own lives.

This process mustn't stop, because we mustn't stop observing.

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