Monday, December 31, 2018

My New Year's Revolution

Changes need to be made, and I have come to the conclusion I can no longer wait for others to make those changes happen. While I have long held to the idea that the changes required were too big to be handled by individuals acting on their own, I now realize they are too urgent to not be confronted in every way possible. And thus I, one has always avoiding being a role model or placing attention upon myself, seek through my actions to be an example of how we must live in the next year. Please don’t think it is because I consider myself special that I do so. It is only because I am no different than anyone else that I think my actions can inspire others. If this porkchop-eating, shopping-as-entertainment human being can commit to building a better world, then heck, anyone can. 

Once I believed our government should lead us in change, but now I see it is hopelessly corrupted and will never change until confronted with an undeniable commitment by the populace. Once I was lulled into silence by those who spoke so certainly that the free market would make all good things come to pass, now I realize it is only an engine driven by our collective greed, fear, and insecurities. No, our institutions will not save us, they will eventually lead us to our deaths. Only us, acting out our humanity, can make the world what it needs to be. If we allow our institutions to stamp out the best and most human in us, there is no hope for our species, at least none that I care to speculate.

Here then are my resolutions in support of revolution:

-I resolve to abstain from animal products to the best of my ability. I am not saying I will be perfect but year by year I have gotten less dependent on them and this year I will push myself away from the unnecessary inclusion of meat, dairy, and eggs in my diet. This is important to me both from an environmental aspect and because it expresses my commitment to non-violence. I don’t have to kill animals to sustain myself, and I sure don’t want them living their entire lives in the most deplorable of circumstances. My abstaining from animal products will reduce the amount of land required for agriculture, which can then be given back to nature to do with as she pleases.

-I resolve to eliminate plastic from my life as much as possible. There is no need for me to ever use a disposable plastic bag. None. Furthermore, there is no need for me to drink water from a disposable plastic bottle. If I am too lazy or forgetful to bring my own cup or bottle to work, I can drink from the water fountain or cup my hands beneath the faucet. When I go to the grocery store, I will not put my fresh vegetables and fruit in the plastic bags provided if I can help it. Why waste a bag for one pepper or onion? I will not use straws. I will in every instance, think long and hard about how I can avoid plastic when making a purchase. If I am at an ice cream shop, I will choose to eat it out of a cone if the alternative is to use a plastic spoon. Simple choices that at the worst will do little for the planet, but will cost me nothing.

-As much as possible, I will try to eliminate doing business with corporations. I have had my prescriptions changed from Walmart to a locally-owned pharmacy. I will buy what I can from local shops and restaurants, will buy my food from local farmers. And if I feel the urge to buy something and it is only available through Amazon or some other huge corporation, I will ask myself if I really need it that much. I have found that most of the time the answer is no.

-I will, as much as possible without making an annoyance of myself, alert people to the reasons I am making these decisions. Not in a judgmental but in an inspirational way. Everybody loves nature, everybody love turtles and clean water and bumble bees. I want to remind people that they have the power to protect nature and make the world a better place.

So how about you, what are your New Year’s Revolutions? I know it’s kind of late to bring it up but if you have any, please share. Otherwise, let the idea sit in you mind for a while and see what you start practicing in the lead up to 2020. They need not be the same as I have shared, in fact I am confident many of them will be more creative and ambitious than my own. I just felt the need to get the ball started, or at least add my name and commitment to a movement that will never start with our institutions and must begin with us average human beings. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

"You Can't Change Things"

“You can’t change things, you know,” he said. Who it was isn’t important, he is many people, he is a she as well. I’ve encountered him/her everywhere I go, online and on television too.

He saw me using a reusable bag at the grocery store, in which the cashier was putting my veggie burgers and soy milk. I always go to a cashier rather than using the self-checkout because I’d rather give a person a job than interact with a piece of machinery.

“It doesn’t do any good,” he said in the silence that existed while I weighed the words he first spoke to me. “You all by yourself are not going solve the world’s problems.”

“Look at all the other people shoving their groceries into plastic bags that they will then throw away. Not only do they not care, your example will be ignored, and you can’t do it on your own.”

Like I said, I have heard the argument many, many times before, from people who felt they knew better than me, were wiser in the ways of the world. In the past, their words would weigh heavily upon me. I would believe them because they were so certain, while all my conviction rested on that ever fragile notion called hope. Their argument, however seemed to rest solidly on past examples.
Who was I to argue with all the evidence the past provided? Who was I to say that something new might be achieved? A dreamer, surely.

But perhaps it was the utter repetitiveness of the argument that finally made me tire of it. In all of my life it never wavered, and in all my life, it never did anything to make me happier or the world a better place. So I gave him my reply in a way I never had before. I said it confidently, whereas in the past I weighed my hope with his defeatism.

“Yes, I can,” I said, and it really made me feel good inside to say it.

“What?” he said, as if I had just pronounced myself to be Napoleon Bonaparte or Jesus Christ.

“I said,” and I paused for a moment, confidently, “I am going to change the world.”

“You’re crazy,” he said, with the certainty such types are known for. But freed from my own doubt, my own despair, I could see his certainty and his narrative begin to waver. Never in his life had he had it confronted so directly.

“I am going to change the world,” I said. Not cruelly. Not confrontationally. Just confidently, filled with a brightness I had always longed for but never believed myself capable of. “I am going to change the world and you and everyone else in this store are going to help me.”

I couldn’t help noticing the cashier looking at me as I spoke. I wasn’t sure what she thought of me, but I realized I wasn’t embarrassed by the words I spoke, the position I took, or the attitude I had assumed. My groceries bagged, I thanked the cashier quite genuinely for the service she provided for me, grabbed my bag and walked out the door, making sure I gave something to the bell ringer and thanking him as well. I wish I could explain to you the joy I felt inside. My uncertainty I left behind for the man who had tried to talk me out of my foolishness. “That’s okay,” I thought, “uncertainty is where I started and it led me to where I am now, which is quite a nice state of mind to be in.” 

I truly believe he had been waiting his whole life for someone to show him he was wrong.