To my darling ones,
“Joy and amazement at the beauty and grandeur of this world, of which Man can just form a faint notion.” Einstein
It has taken me forever to write this letter. Because I am stuck with the very uncomfortable truth: I know, but I’m not doing much about it.
Yes I changed all the lights in the house to LED, yes I recycle, yes I have stopped buying things I don’t need, yes I don’t use pesticides in the garden, yes I buy biodegradable products….but I still drive a car, get on airplanes, put the heating on when it gets a bit chilly, forget to turn my computer off, live with the story that my little efforts are irrelevant given the scale of the change that is needed.
And it’s not that I don’t care. I care deeply. For you three, and the families I hope you will have one day; for the many beautiful places I have had the privilege to know, places which take my breath away, that fill my heart with a bursting joy and connectedness to something so much greater than I, places I know may be quite different when you are my age; for the hundreds and hundreds of species that may not be around for much longer if the 6th extinction is truly upon us; for the trees that give us the air we breathe (boy what a miracle is that ?!); for so much life and beauty on this extraordinary planet.
The truth is that although the scientific evidence that man is impacting global warming, climate change and species extinction is now pretty overwhelming, I continue to go about my life much the same as I always have, living with that story: that my little efforts are irrelevant given the scale of the change that is needed. It’s such a poor excuse, I feel ashamed as I write it. Yet it is hard to change all these default behaviours that we have embodied over years, even generations, when I see so many other people carry on as they always have.
Do things have to get really really bad for us to react, by which time it will be too late, because we will have reached the tipping point where everything becomes uncontrollably exponential?
Finding myself stuck in this place I have been asking the question: What can help me change?
Right now I am studying with Mandy Blake, and some of her ideas are helping me see a way forward. Mandy talks about a number of elements which she believes are key to bring about change.
Disruption: To change I need to find ways to disrupt the old behaviours, find big disincentives to doing business as usual. This is where we need economic incentives that make it hard to continue doing what we have always done. Like putting a fence across a path that everyone takes for a short cut, a fence that makes you take the long way round. We need political leaders who will disrupt our old behaviours with taxes and regulations. Just like we are doing with smoking, where you can’t smoke in public spaces. I will support the leaders who are ready to legislate to disrupt our behaviours.
Attention: What we pay attention to is key in determining how we are and what we do in the world. So if I want to change my behaviour in this domain I must keep this subject front and centre of my attention. So I will get much more mindful about what I do and what I see going on around me. Just today, for example, I have been reading about the drought in California and the drying up of Yosemite and the onslaught of the dry beetle that is destroying so many trees. Right there I got a glimpse of a world where beautiful places we now know may change dramatically in the very near future.
Emotion: So if I want to change I have to connect more to why I care about changing, and keep that front and center. For The Sake of What …. for You, and for many other living beings I don’t know who will suffer. Time to get much emotionally engaged, cos it is emotions that drive the change. Information and knowledge just doesn’t seem to do it. So connecting with how I feel about this by writing this letter is helping a lot ( thanks to the team at WeKnew.org). Take the time to let myself feel the sadness that comes up for me as I think about the world we will be leaving you if we don’t act. And feel indignant about the injustice of it all … why should innocent people on remote islands pay the consequences of what we have done in the western world with industrialisation and the production of so much unnecessary stuff?
Relationship: to change it will help me to find someone to support me. Find people that care about this, that talk about this, people who help me keep this front and centre. Thank you Chepo.
Practice: We each need to reconnect to the fact that we are part of nature, and not separate. To help me do that I will develop a practice that strengthens that connection and my resolve to take action. For now the practice is yoga, and meditation, and a declaration: ”I do care”. Doesn’t sound like much I ‘m afraid, but this is where I have to start.
So there it is, I’m really only just starting, catching myself in my old habits, getting more mindful about the choices I make every day, connecting with the fact that I care about this, in a much more intentional way.
I love you my dearest ones.