Can they fly?
Following a previous entry where I described a series of events held by different groups in my –currently- local area, I would like to share this time as my first post of the year, something I got to grasp owing to these experience, one important but quite simple realization: The fact that there will always be a person behind each and every concept.
Everyone -the brain behind the transition movement, the creators of project dirt, the African suffering from climate change impacts, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the writer of Sustainable Energy – without the hot air, the tar sands’ boycott plan composer- they all are humans with a name and a face in the front of their heads. So am I and so is every one of us.
Therefore, even though nowadays, as the song says, “the future is sounding like a science fiction film”, (and yes, it does scare the shit out of me)… it is safe to state:
<<Unlike science fiction films, everybody in this world is actually human and no one has super powers>>
And surprisingly, getting to this simple and quite obvious realization, really accepting this as a fact, can be enlightening, and extremely positive!
(Not to disregard the depth and magnitude of the problems the world and humanity is facing, it still opens up the door to infinite possibilities of leading more just lives, driven by respect and appreciation for the environment and others)
In his blog, the artist of non-conformity Chris Guillebeau, in addition to his own insights, quotes Steve Job’s clear and wise words:
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”
So no person can fly, none is immortal or omnipresent, no one can (really) control you. Of course a few number of humans do have powerful super tools inside their packed super pockets or super bank accounts, and that allows them to be in super positions and even seem to have an influence in the way and speed that the world goes round, but if we think about it, this is only because other humans (perhaps unconsciously) have agreed to give power to them. <See the Economics of Happiness>.
Being objective and looking at it from the perspective that we are all humans and everything we rely on -in a social, political and economical sense- was created by one, or several of us, does make a point for believing that change is possible. Sure, it is not to an easy task, but cliché as it might be, we can start by changing ourselves.
Naturally we are part of society, and the changes that we can make are, in different proportions, constrained by the environment in which we live in. It wouldn’t be sustainable if the over 3.3 billion people living in urban areas decided to move out of their cities and be self sufficient, and it is not possible within present contexts for most people to live like the moneyless man, still there is plenty of room to start questioning our lifestyles and the systems we are supporting. It is a complex task but it can be very satisfactory in a much more sustainable sense than the pleasure one might experience when spending money or buying a thing.
There are so many ways to start getting involved and help take some of the super power away from humans in high positions, and these actions are not to be underestimated.
In London for example, lots of people have decided to cycle and walk instead of using the car, to eat less meat and dairy, to become vegetarian or vegan, not to buy any plastic bottles, to take disposable bags to the supermarket, to join organic vegetable schemes, to volunteer at a local charities, to support less privileged people, to join a transition group, a Friends of the Earth Group, a FoodCycle group, to create their own groups… Without meaning to imply these are “right” choices, the point to be noted is that these are all decisions people choose to make following their beliefs, alternative paths one could take or construct in this city as well as in any other.
It might difficult to know where to start, perhaps a great way could be to begin by reading about the matters that interest oneself and find related events, projects or groups, blogs or websites to join and to get inspiration…
The personal everyday activism toolkit available here aims at helping people starting, or already engaged in this quest for meaning and life coherence, making a self-exploration exercise to define a personal direction, later creating tools to support the chosen practice. Chris Guillebeau’s website also has a number of manifestos and books about non-conformity available for download. Another helpful resource can be to join mailing lists, for example FoE which provides a tip of the day with simple actions for change…
There is no defined prescription and this post is simply an invitation to acknowledge that there are different valid ways of living, and that it is never too late to start devising alternative routes, remembering that the one we are currently used to following, was at some point created by someone who is just like us.
It is worth saying also that there is no shame in being scared of the possibilities, perhaps you find you are comfortable enough living the way you are living and you do not have the time to “save the world”.
Still, if you ever feel dissatisfied or frustrated about your personal situation or about some form of injustice you, others or the world is experiencing, or find yourself questioning the meaning of (your) life, perhaps you could join those who have decided to explore themselves and their environment in the belief that by doing so, it is much more likely to find what one is looking for, than if instead one continues to follow the same old paths (Einstein’s “doing the same thing, expecting different results”). Even more, as enlightenment theories sustain, perhaps one will realise that there is actually nothing to be found, that ON the path, in its shape, form, and in our engagement with it, we already have what we are looking for.
As a final note please do let others know if you decide to try a different route, or are already engaged in some form of “Everyday Activism”, that way your initiative becomes even more valuable as others can benefit by learning along and hearing about your experiences.
And of course, do get in touch here if you wish to share your stories, I am more than happy to hear them.