“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Maybe we can’t save the world. But…
If you’re not depressed, you’re not paying attention.
The other day, a good friend of mine who runs a successful raw local honey business matter-of-factly mentioned that beekeeping is over in our Boulder, Colorado, area within three years.
Beekeeping is done in Boulder County, where I live, within three years.
That blew my mind. He’s lost half his bees this year—again. Pesticides are in every other field, and bees roam.
I asked, what could be done about it? Unless city- and county-wide changes are made, and fast, he said—it’s over.
That’s just one of a 1,000 problems facing us when we wake up each morning. Terrorism. Women’s rights. Carbon footprint of driving or flying. Bike lane advocacy. Real food vs. diabetes? Big corporations buying up little ones. The greed of the tech industry. Mining. Mountaintop removal. Earthquakes and fracking. Drought.
And yet many of us don’t seem to care. We drive, we poison our lawns, we eat cheese from factory farms on restaurant nachos and call it “yummy!”
As Winston Churchill said, the only way out is through. We have to face the music. We have to allow ourselves to be aware. Otherwise, we become what I’ve become, lately: uninspired, flat, almost depressed. Listless. A little burned out.
When most of the world puts much of its energy into not caring, it’s hard to see a way forward. When most of the world spends money on Avengers II instead of, say, helping a homeless person get clean and into real housing…when most of the world thinks more about getting laid or summer concerts than looking within and finding genuine, unconditional happiness…it’s hard to keep caring. It hurts.
But there’s nothing wrong with summer concerts, or the Avengers. It’s our duty to enjoy life, to celebrate our every day, to appreciate the present moment, to garden, remember your to-go coffee mug or bake some cookies for our colleagues. Recently, I’ve fallen in something like love, a little—and I’m reminded, whatever happens, that love is not something to cling to. It’s something to appreciate. Clinging is not love: it’s selfish. I want a woman who will love me unselfishly, whose love for me and our hypothetical children will be braided with her passion for creating a more enlightened society.
So the good news is this:
There’s nothing wrong with having a good time—as long as we’re not ignoring the endless suffering in this world. We must celebrate and appreciate life—as long as we work to make this world more equal, more kind, more healthy. Sunshine and rain, joy and pain, day and night: the good and the bad, and the happy and the sad are all a part of our path.
So we must work with our neighborhoods to make them fun, vibrant, thoughtful, rich in kindness if not money. We might work for protected bike lanes, which will encourage more cyclists to cycle more often, leading to better health and fewer cars and less traffic (good for all). We must fight the side effects of disruptive technologies (Airbnb, Uber, anyone?) that displace affordable rentals and turn entire downtowns into ghost towns or replace solid middle class jobs with temporary workers who are being used, and will be dropped as said technologies “innovate.” We must work to make our towns great and green and happy and strong economically for generations—communities with bike lanes, class diversity, permaculture, affordable housing and well-paying jobs.
We may not be able to save the whole world.
That’s the job of a few entrepreneurs and mission-driven media and politicians—and some are trying (while most aren’t). But we can wake up and meditate, be more present, do our dishes, and work for peace and kindness in our community.
The alternative is despair, and that helps no one.
Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,
Editor-in-Chief: elephant journal; host: Walk the Talk Show
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