The definition of crazy: you know something is real, but you act like it’s not. That’s humanity. We like to think short-term. But we also have the capacity to think long-term—if not about our next seven generations, then at least for our children and grandchildren.
This morning, at a hipster café (hipster as in yuppie/instagram-friendly, not hipster as in roots of hipster), where nothing is organic or local, where plastic is everywhere, where the paint is toxic and the lawn is green, I ran into a (few) friend(s). It’s a small town. My friend’s phone was on, burning battery. It was, therefore, plugged into his laptop. I said, hey buddy, your phone’s on, you can turn it off, save that battery. He said, no problem, I got it plugged in. I said, yeah, but you’re burning…you wouldn’t need to plug in if…it’s from coal…and he said…it’s Pokemon, man, you gotta leave it on all the time.
Now, he’s a good, smart, well-educated, funny, sweet guy. But between Pokemon and climate change, he’s going with Pokemon.
Truth is, we’re all like that. It’s more fun to play Pokemon than be sparing with what we consume.
I guess. I know it was a small moment, and no one’s perfect (least of all me), but it made me sad. If here in Boulder a Buddhist buddy of mine knows but doesn’t care…well, we’re up climate change creek without a paddle. We’d rather not vote for Hillary, many progressives, and allow a Trump in the White House. We’d rather drive to yoga. We’d rather eat food without asking if it’s factory-farmed or organic, ’cause it’s awkward, or a hassle. We want speed. We want convenience. We don’t mind shipping something from China. We don’t mind low prices killing authors and publishers if we get our books cheap, plastic-coated, offa Amazon. We don’t mind wars if they’re in countries we don’t know well.
It’s not ’cause we’re evil, it’s ’cause we’re selfish. We all just want to be happy, and that’s understandable. But we have to get, I have to get, you have to get:
And the converse is true: if you want to be unhappy, think only of yourself.
And the sadness I feel, today, isn’t badness. I wrote a (mediocre, but sincerely intended) poem about that, just now:
Sadness may set us free.
I am sad: our world seems bent on not caring. Our world is frivolous, which is fun. But it is not smart, and it can even be cruel.
My friend would rather burn coal or eat a factory farmed chicken than save the world, you know. And that’s how we all are, when we skim the surface of daily life.
She is sad: she sees the beauty and caring of animals, and knows we are killing and torturing them.
He is sad: he sees hate bloom where community flowered. He sees poverty swamp where opportunity once stood. He sees war paint nations in pain.
Alone, our sadness turns inward, into depression.
But united, our sadness naturally turns into empathy, and empathy into action, and action into rooted joy, fierce kindness, even peace on earth.
How may we come together? I have spent a lifetime trying, and succeeding—but even the mechanisms of joining are monetized into cynical corruption.
So create your own ground, and leave nothing to chance: the greedy and hateful among us are used to winning.