Tag Archives: action

Lifting each other

We live in strange and challenging times, full of uncertainty and reasons for fear. It can be difficult to know what to do in face of such enormous challenges. My advice is, think small. It’s perhaps more obvious to think that you, personally should be doing something dramatic. To feel that you personally should be sorting out climate change, or fixing your country’s political system, or ending the pandemic or saving the rainforests… And, unable to see what you can even do on that scale, you may end up paralysed and doing very little.

Think small. Ask yourself what you can do today that might make the day a bit better for someone else. Maybe it’s a cat photo on Facebook. Maybe it’s amplifying a cause on Twitter. There is undoubtedly someone you can help in some small way. Do it. Do it every chance you get and use that focus to make sure you don’t end up overwhelmed, frozen and unable to do anything at all.

Ask how we might lift each other. Look for the projects, the activities and the opportunities that lift more people, create support or visibility, do something to make change. Again, you do not have to be engaging with a global crisis directly for this to be worth doing. Look for local projects that help people in your area. Look for local environmental and sustainability projects. Often there’s overlap – the project getting kids on bicycles will help with social issues and environmental issues at the same time. These things are all related, social justice and environmental care go together so start where you can and trust that it will help with wider issues too.

It is so easy to be pinned down by fear. It is so desperately easy to be persuaded of your own powerlessness. However, if everyone got stuck in and did whatever small things they could do, we would see rapid change. We can make significant cultural shifts out of people being kinder to each other – just that alone would do a tremendous amount of good and help push our societies in better directions. Think small, it can be a powerful, radical ambitious choice that gets a lot done.

Baby steps to saving the world

With the latest reports on climate change making it clear that we are in trouble and it is the fault of our species, there’s a lot of misery and powerlessness floating about online. Other People aren’t going to listen. Other People won’t act. Governments won’t do anything and too many Other People don’t care, or disbelieve or refuse to live differently. You know who the Other People are – they’re the ones with the real power, whose actions make a genuine difference.

What this does, between the gloom and doom and the idea that only someone else can fix it, is keep us in that most dangerous of mind sets: Keeping calm and carrying on. That is suicide.
So let’s take a case in point. Disposable plastic shopping bags are not necessary, we know this because for most of history, people managed perfectly well without them. That’s a huge resource outlay to make something we use for perhaps an hour or two and then throw away. Plastic tortures and slaughters wildlife in hideous ways, and if you’ve been online for more than a week the odds are you’ve seen photos of a creature hideously bound by plastic and suffering dreadfully.

We could entirely eliminate the use of plastic bags. We don’t need government action. We don’t need the supermarkets to do anything different. All we have to do is stop using them. It really is that simple. Get a bag you can re-use, take it shopping with you, re-use it. A huge environmental problem will simply go away. (Then we just have the tidy up to contend with).

And the thing is, all the bags you don’t use and throw away are part of the solution. This is true across the board. If we all used a bit less electric, wasted a bit less food, drove a bit less, recycled a bit more, reused a few things, kept something out of landfill by some responsible means, the effect would be vast. How much power could we save, how much could we keep out of landfill and how much better would our collective relationship with the planet be if we all did a few small things? We could turn this whole thing around just with individual action.

I do not think governments have the will or the courage to tackle climate change. I do not believe big business gives a shit. However, that’s a tiny minority of human life. If the rest of us start making small changes and trust that those changes are worth something, we can turn the tide. If we all stop with the plastic bags, the supermarkets will give up handing them out, and will stop buying them, demand dries up, supply ceases. We could do that with pretty much anything if enough of us gave it a go.

I’m not a big fan of market economy, but on the plus side it is really vulnerable. Take away demand, refuse to demand, and supply has to quit. We can force suicidal and unsustainable business out of the market, just by not engaging with it. That means being really suspicious about anything claiming to be free and easy. We will be paying for it; in truth, we just don’t get to find out what the price tag is. We pay for it in damage to our habitat and risk to our lives, and that’s a bloody expensive outlay for something you only wanted to use once and throw away.

An uneasy life

There are some potent words here http://www.vulpine.cc/Blog/health/make-life-harder  about being alive and not being seduced into mindlessness by an excess of ease.

Not that I’m a high risk of that just now. I’d love the opportunity to be seduced a bit into lethargy. By lunch time I was crying out of sheer exhaustion. Today, 2 hours of set painting, then settling down to work, and there was an article to write – one that, if I get it right, might help thousands of people whose homes and rights are under threat. No pressure. And a request to read through the evil document related to this, to feedback what I can. We’re talking the Canal & River Trust constitution http://www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/documents/legal/CRT-Articles-Adopted-27-Mar-2012.pdf which does not even recognise that boat dwellers exist, much less offer them any kind of protection. I care about human rights, and I worry that once the rot sets in, it’s in. And for so many people this will be a shrug issue, they don’t live on a boat or know anyone who does.

First they came for the communists, but I did not speak out, because I was not a communist.

Another request for help in the email today as the Alex hospital in Redditch is once again hit with the threat of losing services, including accident and emergency. My son was born at the Alex, they were threatening cuts even then. But I’m not in Redditch any more, it’s not my hospital.

When they came for the socialists, I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.

There are a thousand and one other things I should be doing. This is not the blog I meant to write today – it will have to wait until tomorrow. I need to sort accommodation in Lincoln (seriously, if you live in Lincoln and could take us in for a weekend, now would be a good time to mention it). I have to think about doing the things that make money. I’ll be honest, I hate having to think about money. I hate having to work out what might sell, and where the pennies are coming from. It’s not that I’m profligate, but there are bills to pay, and all that. But what I want to do is throw most of my time and energy at work that doesn’t pay. Protest work. Voluntary work. Things that make the world just a little bit better. I hate having to turn away from anything that needs doing. But every day, I say ‘no’ to more issues than I sometimes know how to bear. Much of the most important work that needs doing in the world, no one will pay you for. What on earth does that say about the state of our culture? We drive the best people to exhaustion and despair – let’s mention teachers, and nurses for a couple of easy examples. We pay bankers more money than any human being could possibly need. And today is one of those days when it just makes me want to scream.

When they come for me, there probably won’t be a heck of a lot of point bothering, I shall be too tired to put up any resistance, by the looks of it. It might come as a bit of a relief. But that’s the tiredness talking, and tomorrow I will pull on a fresh pair of fighting trousers and try to do something meaningful, whilst trying to make ends meet. No, I won’t be seeking out anything to make life harder today, but thanks for the thought.