Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thinking small

I open my Facebook account and I was told that it’s my fault that the world is messed up. I was also informed that I must do something to save Mother Earth. I really want to, but saving a whole planet seems like a really, really tall order.

Just yesterday, I was also told that Mother Earth is at war… with me! Yup, me and my co-inhabitants on this giant orb, which as Sagan put it, is actually just a pale blue dot in the universe. I was also told that I am winning, but unfortunately, winning this war means losing it.

Ok, first of all, I did not consciously want to wage war against Mother Earth. It is not personally my fault that the specie I belong to is one that can never be satisfied, one that continues to imagine, explore, experiment, create, destroy and create again, and destroy again. It’s a vicious circle really. And we happen to exist here, on earth, on which we want to go as happy as we can. And to be happy we look at the things around us and see what we can do about it. We discovered fire and then we invented the wheel, so we can move bigger things faster. We invented tools so we can gather more food. We invented weapons so we can hunt more animals for meat, and to get rid of those who want to take our meat. At first we used found objects, like wood, and rocks. Then we discovered that some of the dirt on this planet contain stuff that can be turned into stronger materials for our tools and weapons and wheels. So we started digging for bronze, silver, gold. We were happy for a while but not for long, since as I said, we never satisfied, never content. Never truly happy. We had our floating devices that brought us across waters from one land mass to another, and later we learned that we can actually put ourselves on top of those wheels, and travel faster on land. We went farther, saw more and wanted more. More food to gather, more animals to hunt.

To make a very long story short, here we are today, using fossil fuels that take millions of year to form, fuels that when burned, produce greenhouse gasses that can result in the end of life the way we know it. The end of life itself, even. We didn’t see that coming, did we?

So go save the earth. Who me? I can’t do that, I’m no Superman. Even Superman himself can only save some people sometimes, but he couldn’t save all the people all the time. That, maybe I could do.

So don’t tell me to replenish the earth’s denuded forests and stop global warming and. I can’t do that. I can plant a few seedlings in my backyard, or if I don’t have one, any open space where a tree can grow freely, that I can do. Don’t tell me to stop polluting the earth, I can’t do that. But I can try to reduce the garbage I produce, reuse and recycle some of it as much as I can, that I can do. Don’t tell me to stop poisoning the earth’s rivers and lakes and oceans, I can’t do that. But I can try to minimize the use of harmful chemicals at home, try to minimize the poison that flows down my kitchen sink knowing that this will eventually find its way into the nearest river, and that river flows into the ocean. I can’t de-clog the world waterways of garbage, but I can make sure the canal in front of my house is clean. Don’t tell me to stop putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, I can’t do that. But I can make sure that if I use of one of those things that run on wheels, it’s powered by my own body. And if I really have to use one of those that require fossil fuels to run, I’ll make sure that the vehicle emits as little of those gasses as much as possible by having that engine is always at its best possible condition at all times. And I’ll walk more.

There are times when looking at the bigger picture helps. Other times, it’s just much better to focus on small, practical, doable realistic things.

Afterall, though what I can do on my own may not be much, but the last time I checked, there’s close to 7 billion who are just like me on this earth. That’s a lot of small things that if put together, may just be big enough to matter.

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