I’ve been having a few rants lately to people about how western culture encourages us to live for ourselves only, the way our civilization pressures us to. Celebrities flood the media; how to dress like them, why you should want bodies like them, where they eat and what they buy. We are told that our goals in life are to work ourselves raw in a career, secure a house, have children and raise them to care about the same life cycle as us and to become unconscious consumers just as we are. Our shopping choices fuel child slavery, destroy unimaginable expanses of dwindling natural habitat and continue the demand for rife corruption in countless countries – all because we want more, more, more, and we have decided that nothing else matters more than supporting our own lifestyles. Our blind tourism and entertainment desires have consequences I still can’t get my own family to understand: That elephant you’re riding in Thailand has had its herd slaughtered, its family dismembered for some wealthy human’s fetish, and its offspring smuggled across a border to be broken and tortured only to later end up at an ‘elephant camp’ where you will pay to bottle feed it and thus throw more money into supporting the decline and incarceration of a wild species.
And yet we plod along, without a thought for anything but what we deem as important in our own little worlds. That sentiment is something I continue to struggle with. How can we be so intelligent, and know so much, yet allow these things to happen?
Some truly devastating images have been shared widely over social media and through the news lately showing the utter trauma Syria’s people are currently going through. Syria’s displaced refugees are literally dying to get away from the country that was once their home – and shocking photographs are making outsiders realise that this is actually a reality.
A lot of what I hear in response to this are complaints that the photos shouldn’t be circulating at all, because they are disturbing. Yes, they are disturbing, yes they are heart-breaking, and I also can’t stand to see them any more. But when someone tells me that they plan to do nothing but switch the news off and carry on with their own lives, I am ashamed. For many people it is easy to just shut their eyes and put bigger matters out of their minds – but this is an attitude that can sustain humanitarian crises.
So I know that it can be traumatic to be forced to see the horror that is our world right now… but use that energy to do something good. And I don’t meant get up and leave your life and current responsibilities behind to go and physically help – you can do plenty from a chair at home. Donate $5.00 or some toys to an aid project, for example. This link <— has some good little ideas.
Live with compassion. Be aware. Our actions – even many seemingly insignificant ones – have consequences. Give thoughts to things outside your own world and encourage those in your care to do the same. One of my favourite philosophies is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There is a lot going on, all over the globe. Plenty of projects need our help. I’ve said it before, but by choosing even one thing important to you, and doing something beneficial for it every now and then, you can make a difference – or so the optimist in me believes. I know that everyone has their own troubles, difficulties, and tragedies. But if we resign ourselves to believing there is no point in even trying to make a tiny piece of difference, nothing will change. It isn’t difficult to do a selfless good deed, and I relish hearing about the many plans different people have to help others or contribute something positive somewhere.
Below is a video that I think is a good illustration of how anything can happen to anyone, and may put things in a different perspective for some. It certainly made me think.