Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

What are we waiting for?

Posted by telecommatt on October 14, 2007

Welcome to Blog Action Day. In the spirit of rallying with thousands of other bloggers under the common banner of environmental activism, I sat down today to write an essay on a new manufacturing model I’d read about somewhere. This shorter, humbler, and much more introspective essay is what came out instead. If you find it relevant in any way, please pass it on to someone you know.

Arctic tundra on Wrangel Island, Russia.Everybody seems to know that something isn’t right about the way we are living today. People aren’t happy. We are angry, stressed out, unhealthy, and unsatisfied with our lives. Why is that?

We go to far away places to breath clean air. We still rumble around using combustion engines. Everything from our lip balm to our fleets of aircraft depend on a dwindling and finite resource. Why is that?

Our “free” market economy reinforces a socio-economic burden in which a small number of people control a disproportionally large amount of resources. And the buying power of the American dollar is steadily decreasing both at home and abroad. Why is that?

We kill each other. For religion. For power. For resources. For fear. We kill other people abroad. We kill each other at home. We kill for peace. Why is that?

I wish that I knew the answers to these questions. I don’t. What I do know is that the way we’re doing things won’t work for very much longer. We need to take action now!

We need to stop forgetting that we are part of a global system, an ecosystem. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines an “ecosystem” as a “dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.” [1] That sounds complicated. It’s not. It means that everything around you is part of a system. The birds in the sky. The tree outside. Your desk. Your cigarette butt that you tossed on the ground. You. All part of the same system.

The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia.

It’s a system that continually strives for balance. For example, if the rabbit population grows too big, soon the fox population will also grow and eat the rabbits. Once the rabbit population is small, many foxes will starve with no rabbits to eat. So, what do we expect to happen if we outgrow our place in the system? I don’t know, but it scares me. Something will happen that will cause the system to re-balance itself and it won’t be good news for us. On the other hand, what if we strive to achieve balance within the system? Then, at least, we have some control over our fate. But where do we begin?

What if I said that we should begin with social justice? What if I said that nothing we could do for the environment would have any lasting effect unless it was done with genuine compassion? And how about this? Nothing done with genuine compassion is detrimental to the system that we are a part of. We must throw away any separation we hold in our minds between environmental activism and social justice. When we begin to see that “ecosystem” is just a modern word for so many older concepts of universalness or oneness, we see that we can’t heal one without healing the other.

I promised that this would be a short essay, so I’ll conclude. More peace. Less global warming. We’re all activists; it’s all the same cause. But we’re out of time. What are we waiting for?

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2 Responses to “What are we waiting for?”

  1. Laura Murphy said

    Matt, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and insightful essay…what you say makes more sense than anything I’ve read on the topic in a long time. I think you’ve hit on something very important…thank again.

  2. Laura,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. This is a concept that has taken a long time to materialize in my mind, and I’m just beginning to see how it fits into my everyday life. I’m glad that you feel the same.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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