I have had a number of ‘doom and gloom’, ‘the end is rushing towards us’ conversations recently. For the times, this is not unusual. What strikes, surprises even, is how much fatalism and pessimism can be found. The attitude of ‘what can one person do’ seems prevalent. And then the fellow who says since the end is so near he was going to drive as many gas-guzzling vehicles he could manage into the inevitable. Somewhere in there he had a point and he was willing to burn down the world to prove it.
Let’s have no doubt: the situation is dire. Democracy is ebbing, and wealth and power blind people to the earth’s woes. Our ideals and our planet are mortally wounded and so many people are so disembodied they do not feel the pain of it. Whether or not this leads to the death of our world is now up to us.
The image of Greta Thunberg’s angry face framed behind Trump’s jocular indifference haunts me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_LtNt9HFjM
“We know for example, in increasing detail, how economic, political and social systems…are contributing dramatically to the degradation of the global environment. We don’t have a clue, however, about how to help people disengage from the root instincts that are causing this…we understand increasingly well the harm we are causing, but we have very little understanding of how to prevent ourselves from doing it.” Andrew Olendzki, Untangling Self
The culprits: greed, hatred and delusion.
We are like teenagers in our delusion of immortality. Many of us (including some of our leaders) are like the school yard bully who targets those who are different and vulnerable. We want what we want, want it now, and use the word ‘unfair’ as if it were a backstage pass.
As our world goes from young adulthood into old age, the occupants of the world, we, remain immature. It is time to grow up.
Even small steps in our own lives can make a difference to help the world step back from the edge of this cliff.
Stop eating meat. This simple step will change our environment. 50 years ago, in Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé, showed the global impact, on the environment and on the resilience of our food supply, of the meat industry. Anyway, find a way to eat that brings less death, extinction, and pollution, and uses only a quarter as much of the earth’s surface.
Rethink transportation. If you live in the city, how much do you need a car? Walk. Take a bus. If you must commute, take the train. Consider taking your vacation this year at a destination you can reach by boat or train. And when you need a car, choose something that can plug in, either hybrid or electric.
Plant a garden heavy on pollinator attractors. Plant some vegetables and herbs. Try to use heirloom seeds.
Shop locally. Stop buying processed foods. Cook more. Entertain at home more.
Reduce waste. Compost, recycle, and buy things with less packaging.
Vote. At every level! Make your vote count for the earth.
There’s a start. Some small steps. Some optimism. And all these steps are frugal. You’ll save money and feel good about yourself, for a good reason.