I feel like it’s time I take responsibility for my actions in the world. I want to share what I’m thinking and feeling because I don’t think it’s really talked about in a way that isn’t ‘preaching to the converted’.
I don’t know how much longer I can justify or ignore the dreadful consequences of some of the things I do, or some of the things I consume in terms of making this planet inhospitable to us mammals or indirectly causing suffering to others in another (poorer) country.
I have strong willpower when it comes to making choices and changes to my lifestyle that are not of the mainstream but I’m well aware of the truth that nobody can avoid being a hypocrite. It seems that everyone draws a line somewhere – I will do this much to care for others, but no more. I see where other people have drawn their lines and sometimes I feel fascinated, sometimes angry, sometimes slightly ashamed.
Sometimes it’s easier for people to make positive choices once the reasons behind that choice have been on TV. Mostly people just don’t want to hear about this awful thing we’re doing to the planet, or this awful thing about the food industry or whatever – you see people switching off. I don’t think we’ve learnt how to communicate suffering, where the underlying message is ‘this is your responsibility too!’ We don’t want to take responsibility for all this mess, and it feels like a parental voice telling us we need to do our homework – even if that parental voice is right.
People are not comfortable facing their own suffering and pain, and that is the first task if one is to confront anyone else’s suffering.
During that process of facing our pains we will discover that in fact, the suffering of the world is also our own suffering. We are unconsciously turning away from a great gaping pit of suffering feeling within ourselves. It is truly agony to feel the destruction humanity has brought. Recently I felt such a sadness, hopelessness, anger and despair about the oil spill off the coast of New Mexico. And I also felt a rising within me – ‘well, I should go and help! – I shouldn’t leave the cleanup to others!’
The suffering of the world is the suffering of each one of us, because ultimately it is our loss if we lose another thousand species of animal, it is our loss if we destroy more and more ancient habitat, if we ignore slave labour in workhouses across the world, on our doorsteps; those people are our family and this world is our home.
I’m getting more acquainted with these feelings now. I’m certainly acquainted with my old tendency to want to save the whole world – which sadly, I cannot. But I am now asking myself “what can I do?” What one thing can I do? What do I need to do so that I can feel at peace with myself? A true peace which comes from knowing I have done my best – what is my best?
This is really an introduction to many ideas and thoughts I have, and to sharing my plans of action. You know, I don’t know how to write about this without putting you off, dear reader, so it’s also an experiment.
I also think that most people are probably aware that we are in a unique position at the moment, where our actions have a greater impact than ever before in history, in terms of speed of communication – the choices we make could actually be reflected upon in later generations. We have the chance to actually do something.
Isn’t that what everyone wants – a story where there is real risk, and a real chance to be a hero?