August 22, 2018

It’s more fun to care.

I often worry that I might seem negative in a culture awash in out-of-sight-out-of-mind positivity.

I am, I’ll admit, grumpy about casual single-use plastic waste by those of us who know better.

I’m grumpy about, say, money in politics drowning out the healthcare or economic or social equality rights of 99% of us.

I’m grumpy about bad development, weak historical preservation and a lack of affordable housing.

I am grumpy about climate change—when 90% of my fit friends are driving in a town where walking and bicycling and bussing is convenient, and healthy, and affordable, and fun.

But I’m not negative (to use a double negative).

I care about all these big and little things because I do have hope for our earth, and our humanity.

Some of my most powerful, intelligent, kind-hearted friends say “we’re all fucked and when we die as a species the earth will be happier.”

I reject that. I was brought up to see that we humans, however confused, are fundamentally good.

It’s always easier to give up than to do all the little things that go into creating a more enlightened, kind, responsible, fair society.

It’s always easier to be nihilistic. And for all my grumpiness, I’m not nihilistic. It’s too easy to tear down or give up. It’s always gonna be harder to nurture and build up.

We can push back against nuclear proliferation.

We can push back against climate change, and invest our food industry in regenerative agriculture (which literally reverses climate change, and makes better and more diverse and healthy and yummier food). We can plant more trees—every tree cleans our polluted air and provides oxygen for four humans.

We can regulate pollution, and if done intelligently that regulation can be good for our economy both short- and long-term.

Giving up is easy.

It’s always gonna be cooler to be negative, and dark. It’s always gonna be a little uncool to care about all the little things. But we must, because, if we haven’t given up, everything matters.

And it’s more fun to care. When things work, life is vivid, wholesome and magical.

It isn’t tough to say: we’re all fucked, so fuck it. True toughness is found in those of you who care.

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Sheryldene Wagener Aug 24, 2018 7:05pm

What an awesome article! Written like out of my heart! It really is rewarding to care, for both the carer and the person/animal/cause receiving the care. It only takes one step in the right direction, I sincerely hope thousands of people read this article and become inspired into caring. THEN the world can become as beautiful as it was meant to be.

Margaret Babcock Aug 22, 2018 6:18pm

People who claim the world will be better without humanity fail to recognize that we belong here, that we are an integral part of the planet, along with all the animals and plant species. When we care about the earth, we must care about ourselves, too. There's no separation. Life matters and earth is where Life happens. I'm with you. Thanks, Waylon.

Erin Kalabsa Aug 22, 2018 4:05pm

I feel like you're very much a realist and often people can misinterpret that as negativity the “wellness industry” has kind of capitulated to this idea that we are just supposed to be full of positivity all the time. I feel like that leads to a lot of repressed anger, and ultimately complacency. You SHOULD be “grumpy” about all those things you mentioned!? Those are shitty things people are doing. I don’t think people are inherently good, but I don’t think they are bad either! I think people just are. Every day we wake up we have a choice to do good or bad things. It’s why life is so hard! b/c we have to CHOOSE to drive a mile away despite knowing all the negative effects it has and being surrounded by perfectly viable and convenient options…that’s uncomfortable, b/c you know it’s “wrong” but you still do it. But driving a mile down the road doesn’t make you a bad person; it just makes you a person making a shitty choice, if you can live with that choice, well, ok. I also think b/c I’m aware that I have to make the choice I don’t see Nihilism as a cop out but rather liberating. If nothing matters, than, nothing matter! We will all turn to dust, 99% of us will vanish for the universe completely barley being remembered by a distant great-great grandkid who’s only connection to us is a wedding photo and maybe if we’re lucky a cool story (that probably isn’t completely true) about something we did. That’s LITERALLY the best we can hope for. So don’t waste time in a job you hate, b/c it doesn’t matter! Don’t stay in a relationship that is unfulfilling b/c it doesn’t matter! Don’t worry about the 5 pounds you gained this year, or what people will think if you suddenly quite that job you hate, b/c yes, it doesn’t matter! What matters is you, choosing to make yourself “feel good” and not in the superficial way of like drugs, but in a real way. Doing good things makes people feel good, which is why most people are better at caring for someone else than caring for themselves. – sorry for the long comment.

Kathryn Charles Aug 22, 2018 3:29pm

Well put Waylon. I am going to find one little thing I can do today. Little things lead to big things.

Marilyn Regan Aug 22, 2018 3:23pm

Too bad people aren't taught they are fundamentally good, instead of fundmentally bad, at an early age, our mindset would be so different.

Vasumathy Jambunathan Aug 22, 2018 3:09pm

Nicely articulated. Its nice to see that people still care

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.