Why do you stay in prison while the door is so wide open?

 “Why do you stay in prison while the door is so wide open?” ~ Rumi

Good question…I was reading two articles this week (Climate Change you can’t ignore it   and Harnessing our Dark Optimism)  about why even people who know so much about climate change, pollution, ecosystems collapse, peak oil, soil degradation, desertification, social injustices, economic unfairness, etc. don’t make radical changes and don’t show enough fear, anger, sadness and, most of all, action.

I also had the opportunity to watch “Do the Math” with Bill McKibben from 350.org   where he talks about the need to step out from our comfort zone and make others uncomfortable as well, given the magnitude of the emergency we face with climate change; I also sadly followed the developments of the horrible factory collapse in Bangladesh, something that could have been prevented with regulations and making sure all workers were in a safe environment, or even avoided altogether if we didn’t have this “globalization” and “free market” that allows for some of us to buy $10 T-shirts that have been confectioned by low-paid workers earning less than that in a week, and whose rights and lives seem not to be as important as the lives of those who buy the T-shirt and throw it away when they find a “nicer” one…the toll has already passed 1,000 people  we must not forget that each one of them had a name, parents, siblings, partners, children and friends who mourn them, and they (the diseased) had dreams and goals and a life, that no matter how simple or complex, poor or rich, was dearest for each one of them.

I could continue for hours and pages, mentioning how extremely skilled immigrants end up earning minimum wage and servicing gas stations, as cashiers in supermarkets or driving taxis…or how all political parties but one support the building of new LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants in BC, plants that would have the capacity of producing 21 million tonnes of natural gas…and increase the greenhouse emissions by 62 million tonnes per year! (Alberta Tar Sands, considered one of the dirtiest energy sources in the world, produce 48 (no matter the efforts to reduce, as production and demand increases). And all this in the name of the “economy” and “creation of jobs”. (despite studies that show that renewable energy creates more and more sustainable jobs: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable.html#jobs and http://rael.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/WeiPatadiaKammen_CleanEnergyJobs_EPolicy2010.pdf

I don’t know if others see what I see, but all these are connected: there is no “single” problem but many hugely tangled ones, and all respond to the paradigm that we have some kind of right to have it all, always “more and better and bigger”, no matter what consequences this attitude has over future generations, other people around the world, other species and the environment.

The door is open, it may not be clearly visible, but is open: we have to reduce consumption and even stop being “consumers” and start producing again: producing our own food, services and goods. We need to stop thinking we can have it all and ditch the credit cards and all credit: pay what you owe and stop spending! We need to start thinking creatively on how can we live our lives so there is enough for generations to come and for everyone else (and anything else) in the planet. We need to start accepting that our lives have to change because the model we currently have is not sustainable and not fair for all. We need to start creating consciousness and stop hiding and ignoring the challenges, even when facing them may cause pain and sadness, anger and anxiety.

There is only one way to not to feel anxious or desperate: action. Action to make your life a worth living one, action to show the powers that be that you don’t want the life of your children and grand-children to be a chaos of water, food and energy wars while fighting against pollution , droughts and floods.

There are many answers, if you are curious, start by watching this documentary:

The Economics of Happiness http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the_economics_of_happiness/

Actions you can take:

  • Simplify your life.
  • Stop buying things you don’t need and learn where the things you buy come from and who made them.
  • When buying, buy local and preferably to people you now (driving miles and crossing the border hurts the local economy and pollutes the environment, buying in big and cheap stores may mean you are buying the products produced by cheap labour and children’s labour across the ocean).
  • Join a CSA or local farmers’ market and buy seasonal food
  • Make your own cleaning products and stop buying products with chemicals. Learn where they end up (rivers and lakes, wells and lands, the plants and animals you eat, your children’s tummy)
  • Grow as much as you can in your own yard, deck or balcony
  • Harvest water for reuse and use less water.
  • Learn about Permaculture and Transition Towns.
  • Use your car less or get rid of it (carpool, walk, bike, take public transportation).
  • Use less heating and air conditioning: put on a sweater or go outside
  • Stop using paper towels and napkins. Use old towels, blankets and cloth to clean your house.
  • Recycle, reuse, reduce, repair, refuse and re-think how each thing you have, buy or accept is produced and how its life will end (polluting what and whose land or water).
  • Change your eating habits (check the labels, learn about GMOs, think about where that exotic fruit or grain has been and how has it been transported to your table).
  • Reduce the amount of meat and dairy products you consume or stop eating them altogether.
  • Pay attention to the news but also to alternative news, read between the lines, be critical.
  • Provide your children love, healthy food, skills for real life and resilience, your company and great family memories, no “stuff”
  • Start thinking in what is really important in life. Tip: it is not the TV show, not the video game, not the shopping mall and not the next vacation to Mexico.
  • Speak Up about abuse, injustices and bad decisions each time you see them happening. Nothing will end if nobody does anything.
  • Start re-thinking your job, your life and your purpose in this world.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
~ Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

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