Yesterday was Live Earth: seven day-long live concerts on seven continents, performed to raise awareness of global warming and encourage people to do something about it.
Live Earth was a major achievement, which apparently reached two billion people worldwide – almost a third of the world’s population. However, part of me feels uncomfortable with this approach to ‘saving the planet’.
It’s not that I think we shouldn’t try. I’m not someone who feels that following a spiritual path means leaving the earthly behind. My path is focused as much on earth as on heaven, and I share in the desire to make the world a better place, for myself and for all of my fellow beings, present and future.
What concerns me, I think, is that Live Earth might be seen as an end, not a beginning. Getting the message through that “we’ve got to start doing something” is important. But who are “we”, what should we be doing, and when will we start?
Putting ‘think global, act local’ into practice
Recently, many areas of my life have made me think about the relationship between the personal and the social, between the local, the national and the global. The phrase ‘think global, act local’ has become something of a cliche in recent years, but the ideas behind it are worth examining in detail.
We see people and events around the world through our television screens, are connected to people around the globe through the Internet. The food on our tables and the clothes on our backs could be grown or made anywhere in the world. We are aware of and personally connected to the rest of the world now in a way unprecedented in human history.
When we see that change is needed, and that that change must be on a global scale, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Recognising the size and scope of the issues that face us is vital, yet that very recognition can leave us feeling that nothing we can do will make any difference, so why bother? Or it can keep us stuck in the realm of ideas and theory, keeping the problem at arm’s length – someone else’s responsibility.
The suggestion to ‘act local’ is, I believe, one of the few ways to overcome such feelings of being overwhelmed, such difficulties in connecting with change on a personal basis, both of which keep us stuck in inaction. It reminds us that the actions of individuals, families and small groups are the basis of all change. The “we” becomes me, those I live and work with, my neighbours and my friends; it becomes possible to say, “This is what I am doing today.”
So what am I doing today?
Today, I am recommitting to my spiritual practice, which keeps me clear and grounded.
Today, I am turning off lights when they’re not needed, and thinking twice before turning them on in the first place.
Today, I am going around the house and unplugging all the unused power supplies.
Today, I am staying at home and enjoying the sun and the company of my partner and our dogs, rather than driving many miles to the nearest cinema to sit in the dark.
Today, I am being in this environment in which I live, opening to its divinity and listening for the voice of Life.
So what are you doing today?
May our choices and our actions be blessed.