Sunday, July 11, 2010

Series: Going Lightly One Step at a Time

Are you still thinking about the oil that is presently gushing into our precious Gulf of Mexico?  I know I am.  As a gulf coast resident, it hits closer to home for sure.  While our beaches in Manatee and Sarasota Counties have been spared thus far from visible tar ball damage (the last I heard it that the oil is presently estimated to be 100 miles to the west of our shoreline), every night on the local news (which I really don't watch, but see at the fitness club), there is coverage of actions being taken. 

One, for example, is that sea turtles are hatching on our shores and volunteers are very gently removing the eggs and transporting them to the east coast of FL for hatching and release there. No one knows if this will be effective in saving these turtles.  No one knows if the survivors, years from now, will return to the east coast to lay their own eggs, or make an attempt at the gulf shores.  There are so many things we do not know.  There have been oil spills before, but nothing of this magnitude.  Nothing that has continued to "bleed" into our waters.  It is unprecedented.

In situations such as this, my hope comes from the idea that maybe... perhaps this time... the catastrophe is big enough that real change will begin to take place.  That we will begin to prioritize addressing the changes that are absolutly necessary above our own comfort.

We don't always see the effects of what we are doing, but they are there.  They are real.  There really are people who are already suffering from the rising waters caused by climate change. And there are people who are already suffering from the toxins of our over-consumption.  Of course, the animals are suffering from the oil, the sea of plastic, and diminishing habitats. 

We don't often see these things, because at present, we are the fortunate ones.  At present we, who can afford to have computers and blog and read blogs and online news, are the wealthiest people in the world.  And it is the poor and those, including the animals, who are oppressed who suffer first.  But that doesn't make what we are doing and continuing to do right.  And just because we have the luxury of denial doesn't mean that we should do nothing.

There are those who believe that individual action is a waste, that it does not actually create enough change.  But for the majority of us who are women and men and the everyday citizens working in our own cities and towns and raising families or teaching children or caring for our parents or doing the myriad of things that we are doing just to keep all the proverbial plates spinning, it has to be small and doable.  At least in the beginning.  More importantly - and this, I believe, will make real change - it has to be sustained.

We can't simply award Al Gore an Academy Award and congratulate him and somehow, ourselves, on a job well done.  We can't change a few lightbulbs and think it ends there.  Yes, small changes.  But many, many small changes.  And many new habits and new conversations, and new ways of living must take place.  They can be small at first, but they must grow to encompass a life and then a neighborhood and then a town and on and on. 

There did, for example, used to be life without, say... margarine.  And there used to be life without margarine in plastic tubs.  And there used to be life without yogurt in little, plastic containers and plastic tubes and all the other ways that yogurt is marketed today.  But then the changes were made and soon it becomes hard to remember what life was like without said margarine and yogurt containers.  Pretty soon people are amazed that they can actually make yogurt at home!  Or pasta or granola or burger buns or cosmetics or cleaning products or sanitary napkins.  And some are even afraid of what might happen if you try.  Is it sanitary?  Will it harm me or my children? 

Is it therefore possible that we might be able to reclaim some of these unlearned skills?  That we might be able to change our patterns, our habits, the things that we now take for granted as "normal"?  Might our efforts grow and spread so that we, in our twilight years, could look back and recall, with incredulity, "Remember how we used to use that precious oil for things like tubs of margarine?!"?

I am a wife and mother in a suburban home.  I homeschool my two children during the school year, volunteer at an animal sancturary once-a-week, visit my mother and my mother-in-law once-a-week on different days, attend church weekly, work at running a small business teaching classes, and just do all the stuff that makes up a life.  I am not in a positon of power.  I do not run a multi-national corporation.  I do not hold a political office.  But I also don't believe that I don't count.  Of course I count.  I count in the negative in that my portion of impact is affecting the planet negatively.  I therefore continue to belive that my small actions can also affect the planet positively.

I have listed many of the efforts in the sidebar of this blog that my family makes at "going lightly" on the planet.  But I feel an urgency of late to do more and say more.  One of the things I am doing is getting involved in my local Transition group.  I am so very thankful that the movement has made its way nearby to me. 

But, of course, there are so many other things each of us can do.  I'd like to share with you some of the things we do in our home in greater detail over the coming weeks.  My hope is to inspire you to experiment with your own lives. Challenge yourself to live according to a new standard, a new paradigm.  My intention is not to judge, but challenge - myself and others - to begin or continue on a more caring path of living. 

My ideas certainly won't be new news to everyone and there are plenty of other fantastic websites and blogs out there dedicated to delving so much more deeply than I will here (some are found in my sidebar).  But this is just me participating, folks.  It's just me trying to do my part, trying to not let the conversation die, trying to keep these issues in the forefront of our minds so that we do not rest in the luxury of denial.

So far, I have a list of 55 actions of change that one could make in their everyday lives.  I don't plan that this series will be the exclusive content of this personal blog while I work on it. And my posts will not be in any particular order - of importance or otherwise -, but just in a way that makes the most sense to me at the time, I guess.

I hope to intersperse my postings with other current important things in my life.  But this feels important for me to do.  It feels important for me to do for myself, for my children to see that their mother did not remain silent in the face of an uncertain future, and for the animals who do not have a voice.  It is a small request for forgiveness.
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