By Deb Avery
Bombarded with negative news and events on a daily basis, we all know the feeling of hopelessness and what it can do to us and our emotions.
After awhile, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and simply want to turn away from all the images of suffering and violence being done to the people, the animals, and our world. The scale of tragedies today is mind boggling. The injustice, starvation, greed, hate, violence and loss of life—is enough to bring any of us to our knees from the sheer weight of all the suffering.
We may feel there is little, if anything we can do.
But this is not true. Every day we have a choice. Each day is a chance to make a difference. The difference begins each and every day in the hearts and minds of people just like you and I. And together, day after day, we can—we have—and we will, continue to change the world.
We can choose to shield ourselves with busyness or apathy and avoid facing the uncomfortable things in life. Or, we can choose to keep our hearts and eyes open, engage in this world we live in, and do what we can to alleviate suffering.
Many will tell you there is nothing we can do, but that too, is an illusion.
“What can I do to eliminate suffering in the world?” The best answer is: Love yourself and others.
When we can love ourselves deeply on a spiritual level it will flow outward to others. When we learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves, it flows outward to others as well. If we all would do this it wouldn’t take long for loving kindness to wrap it’s arms around the entire planet.
But really, how does this help the starving children in Africa and elsewhere in the world? How does this stop the wars that are raging and the politics and greed that are engulfing our world? It does with one person, one action at a time. Our actions do make a difference. When combined with the actions of others we can not only change ourselves, but we can change the world. But it all begins with us, with our views, perceptions and actions.
No one is coming to save us. We must save ourselves.
Changing the world is not going to happen in a blink of the eye. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can, and does, happen all the time. When enough of us use our money, time and efforts in a way that promotes and sustains a way of life that is full of love, justice and mercy, it becomes a tsunami that overtakes the rest of the world.
It is not easy. We have to take a good look at how we live. We have to admit that we don’t always follow our conscious and do what is best for ourselves and others.
Sometimes it’s simple things. It may mean we leave the peanut butter (and other snacks) on the shelf at the grocery store.
I love peanut butter and orange marmalade sandwiches. I love crackers with crunchy peanut butter drizzled in honey with added pecans. But I love the rainforest and the orangutans more. So, I boycotted peanut butter. I can’t always afford the higher priced sustainably grown product, so a lot of times I do without. This is my choice and I do so gladly. The lives of the inhabitants of the rainforest and the environment the world over, depend on that choice.
One person doing this won’t save the rainforest or the orangutans, but it’s a start. It’s the pebble in the ocean that when combined with lots and lots of other pebbles, can bring about that tsunami of change.
The meat industry is another thing destroying our planet and causing suffering and torture on a daily basis. Are we willing to put our money where our mouths are (literally and figuratively) and do without meat? Mercy for Animals reports that meat consumption for the millennials is down drastically from previous generations. They get it. They see the connection between their actions and the pain and suffering in the world.
The greedy corporations of the world will not “get it” until we hurt them in the pocketbook.
Are we willing to sign petitions, boycott, use our vote and do what is necessary to get their attention? It takes commitment. It takes a willingness to maybe be a little uncomfortable because we refuse to spend our money and time on things that cause harm to our world and those in it. But it’s the only way to start this wave of lovingkindness and personal responsibility that will become the tsunami of change.
Signing petitions gets results. I’ve been doing so all my life and I have seen the results that can happen when people band together for good. Peaceful protests get results even when the world looks away and the news media refuses to cover them or colors them in a different light. If enough people band together and stay together, it will get results.
Local politics matters. Who you vote for in your local governments matter. They are just as important, sometimes more so, as the presidential candidate you vote for in November.
Not meeting violence with more violence in our daily lives can also make a huge difference. How we treat others on a daily basis goes a long way in the process of change. It may not seem like it at the time, but every little thing we do to help begin the wave of change does help.
Don’t worry what your neighbor thinks about you.
Don’t worry what the community thinks about you.
Do what you know in your heart is good and right. They will either be awakened or the tsunami of lovingkindness will wash over their world of indifference and apathy.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He knew the way. So did many other of the great teachers and wise men and women of history.
And so do we.
Let’s be the change.
Editor: Dana Gornall