I heard this story the other day.
A woman in St. Tropez goes into a club, wanting to buy a bottle of champagne. This particular champagne costs 5000 Euros a bottle in the store, but the club is selling it for 100,000. One night, one bottle of Champagne —why not?
This is the kind of story one could hear any day on the glitzy shores of St. Tropez — an island overflowing with billionaires.
Meanwhile, in East Africa…
Famine ravages the Horn of Africa as a result of the region’s worst drought in six decades.
In the face of such incongruities, it is easy to shelter ourselves inside our day-to-day activities. It is tempting to protect ourselves from the troubling truth. Considering the world’s environmental, social, political and economic state, it takes a great deal of bravery, some days, just to read the news. Yet awareness of these heart-wrenching realities is the key to action.
Some things everyone can do:
- 1. Share. Share your smile; share your sandwich; share your environment; share your life; share your time; share your beliefs; share some laughter; share some skills —share you.
- 2. Stay educated. It’s easy to put your head in the sand, like the ostrich, but one day you’re going to need some oxygen. Hopefully, when you do, you’ll find that the sky and the air are still there for you.
- 3. Be aware of your consumption level. Consider the effects of your actions — direct and indirect — on the earth and on your fellow man. Think of ways these can be avoided —be creative! Go to the beach. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Plant a tree. Make some art. Free yourself from the wheels of consumption; avoid the mall. You may be amazed how many interesting opportunities are just under your nose — in your neighborhood, your backyard and your home.
- 4. Volunteer in another country. Get inspired to personally make a difference in the world. While the flight may have a sizeable carbon footprint, consider that you probably won’t be driving your own car for several months. Learning to live as most of the earth’s people do and always have – that is, simply – is an experience that will feed your soul in a way no company or school ever could.
- 5. Find a skill you love. Most Western economies are driven by insatiable consumption. Village-type communities, on the other hand, do not depend on a large profit margin, but rather on a lively variety of skilled labor. A village needs farmers, shop-keepers, yoga instructors, weavers, healers, coffee baristas – not to mention, someone to make a good meal! And every one of these people needs the others as well.
- 6. Live simply. What do you need to survive? What does “luxury” mean to you? You see, most of the world lives so simply, that “luxury” could be a clean glass of water. Yoga may teach us how to conduct ourselves, inwardly and outwardly; to be non-grasping; to practice nonviolence and to eschew attachment — but, when it comes down to it, it is the way we choose to live that really counts. Whatever you choose to be — a saint, a badass, a billionaire — every path involves sharing. Hopefully, this means sharing with those who need it most.
The bottom line is that we needn’t ask, “Where are the billionaires?” To solve the problems that face us all, each one of us must contribute in whatever way we can. A good billionaire will do the same.
The choice to share, the choice to travel, the choice to create, and the choice to stay educated: all of these are choices that serve you, but also the world at large.
Amanda Ramcharitar is a yogini, animal lover and environmentalist, as well as an artist, writer, ponderer and wanderer. She seeks to experience life through the expansive awareness of possibility and hope. Follow Amanda on Twitter or Facebook.
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