On being an individual
I was watching a program a while ago, which included footage of wildebeest and zebra crossing a crocodile infested river. The huge heard of wildebeest looked like a crazy mob, panicking and forcing each other into the water, crashing across in an uncontrolled frenzy. The zebras, much fewer in number, took their time, picked their crossing places carefully and swam across is a more deliberate fashion.
I was clear which animal I identified with, but then they said that it was by and large the zebras that got caught by the crocodiles. It seems that, at least in some circumstances, being part of the crowd is the better choice.
I’m not sure whether or not that is a lesson in life.
(29th June 2019)
How do I respond to climate change
This was written in response to a social media post by a friend. Their post mirrored the way I sometimes feel about our seeming inability to change our ways in the face of such a pressing issue.
It is very easy to get weighed down by the obvious seriousness and possible hopelessness of the situation. Worst case scenarios and extreme weather events seem to be in the news all the time. Some people seem oblivious, some deny there is an issue, and others seem not to care. If you do care and want to do something, it feels like the challenge is weighted against you.
The first thing I try to remind myself is not to get too hung up on the news. I am not trying to deny that there is a serious issue, but news is a business that trades on sensation, and we humans seem to be especially attracted to negativity. These two things mean news outlets get attention with negative stories, and they are therefore good for their business. The more they can shock, scare and horrify us the more they thrive, but this does not help us. Yes we must acknowledge that there is a problem but getting caught up in the media sensation can easily lead to a feeling of paralysis and hopelessness.
So how should I react? I have decided to try to keep focusing on what I can do, and not get weighed down by the big picture. Climbers at the bottom of a seemingly insurmountable peak would stand no chance of getting to the top if they concentrated on the apparent hopelessness of the challenge. You have to keep your head down and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The world will continue, life will go on, we will survive. It may be difficult and there may be suffering. This may be the biggest challenge humanity has faced, but we have got through huge challenges in the past.
I have decided to pick my battles, do what I can that will have the biggest impact and spread the word. I will look at what action is most effective, and make some changes. This reduces the feelings of impotence, it makes me feel that I am contributing to something. I will join others who are taking positive action, being part of a group makes you feel more positive and connected. Feeling that you are on your own, and having negative feelings can be a vicious combination. Feeling part of collective action makes a difference.
Finally will I remind myself to appreciate the most important thing we have, each other. This is worth more that any material possessions. We can live without new stuff, we can't live without each other. I will focus on our creativity, my favourite music, art, drama, and appreciate the creative process that went into it. For all our failings and craziness, us humans are also amazingly creatures.
(25th May 2019)