Many of us get on with our days, minding our own business and struggles, often taking the easy way out; life is complicated enough as it is. Many conveniences and distractions are offered to make life easier. These days, many involve (easy online) purchases or (more) screen time.
We have to wake up. We have to become acutely aware of our own very actions that impact greenhouse gas emissions and our climate: how much we drive and fly and why; what we eat and where it comes from – how it was produced and how much we waste; how much we buy and why – distinguish needs from wants; how we value nature or not; how much we are addicted to screens, social media or substances and why; what are we doing out of convenience and how can we change that?
It is through our individual and collective awareness that we can change our climate, environmentally but also socially destructive behaviors.
We also have to be very mindful of the ability and capacity of each individual to change, given our individual life circumstances. Some have more ability to change than others, given their income, social status or where they live. Yet it is only fair to create opportunities to contribute, for everyone.
What we do not value, we do not protect. We need to go back to spending more time in nature; engage in human-powered activities such as walks, runs, hikes, bike rides, kayaking, canoeing, gardening, camping, ski/board or cross-country ski; find something that inspires you and do it. Once we again feel connected with nature, with rivers, mountains, lakes, beaches, oceans and forests, we will value and protect them. We will preserve the pristine beach we are standing on – keep it free of plastic water and pop bottles. We will stand up, we will take individual action to not lose all of it to pollution, flooding or destructive wildfires.
We need to wrestle ourselves away from the television and other screens. Take yourself and your family out into nature to experience the beauty, calm and healing that is available at natural places. Get away from cities as often as you can. See the stars and wonder what is beyond our CO2-laden atmosphere. Stand on a mountain top and look around, be amazed, be humble – and hopefully it is not during a wildfire season where dense widespread smoke blocks out all views.
We have to inspire our children to love nature; to care for plants and animals of all sizes. Create a garden, grow your own food, get them into the dirt, let them experience the rawness and beauty of nature. But this means we have to model it for them – we have to love nature, not merely pretending we do. We need to find or re-discover our own spiritual connection with the natural world.
Many countries and societies across the planet face an erosion of community; a loss of a deeply felt sense of belonging, safety, support, shared values and friendship. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the speed and intensity of social isolation. Social media and free video calling Apps help mitigate some of the isolation and provide meaningful connections but the erosion of community values runs a fast pace. Social media in particular often drives isolation, despite the feeling of being connected to a large group of people. The mental health of everybody across the age continuum is severely affected; of deep concern are the mental health challenges observed in our children and youth.
We need to find back together as communities – only in some cases as online communities – to find ways to be in close relationship with each other; our neighbors, co-workers, church groups, through schools / colleges, sports, hobbies etc. We need to build networks of trust so we can organize carpools, borrow and lend tools, purchase things together and share, rather than everyone buying everything themselves. Carpool to work and school. Offer ride-shares within your network; take the bus, walk, or cycle together.
This is more fun as well. Trusted relationships are great boosters to our positive outlook on life. It is inspiring, we support each other, we have fun together, we save money and protect the climate and our environment. We need to be in healthy trusted relationships.
We have to find our heart, for each other and all living beings on the planet. There is no other way to combat climate change and all our social issues that led to it. The mind can only take us so far – the depth of the heart however is fathomless. The necessary social renewal will not be a mind game but be powered by love, open hearts and shining souls.
The behavioral changes that the minusfiftypercent movement is asking from every single individual need to be fueled by our internal motivation – change for the sake of avoiding suffering for others, especially our children. Governments will eventually dictate the necessary changes and they will be resisted, further delaying necessary actions. Let’s reach into the depths of our cores and ignite a fire that shines brightly into the future sustained by our intrinsic motivation to change the future for our children and all future generations. To restore a healthy and beautiful world.
In the end, it will be our hearts that determine our future. Let’s grow our potential for openness, love, connection and relationships. This is how greenhouse gases will be reduced and social renewal will be achieved.