“If you don’t want to do something one excuse is as good as another”
It won’t make a difference. I haven’t got the energy. I don’t have the time. I need to concentrate more on my family/work. I don’t have the skills. I can’t seem to get started. I’ve too much on right now. It’s too complicated to know what to do. It’s someone else’s responsibility. There’s no perfect solution. Doing something will only make things worse. We should concentrate on something else instead. It’s a waste of time. It probably wont work anyway.
The world has many problems – poverty and hunger, conflict and injustice, scarcity of resources and environmental damage.
There are over 7 billion people on the planet, of whom more than a billion live in extreme poverty on less than $1.25. It’s not widely understood, but that figure is locally adjusted, to equate to what $1.25 would buy in the United States – perhaps half a hot dog, and no healthcare, no education, no clothes, nowhere to live !
Another 2 billion live on less than $2.50 a day.
According to UNICEF, of the 2.2 billion children in the world; 1 in 3 don’t have adequate shelter, 1 in 5 don’t have access to safe drinking water, and around 22,000 will die each day from poverty – more than 70 in the time it takes to read this blog post.
The world is also living unsustainably. Our rising appetite for energy, food, water and raw materials is causing problems, and outstripping what the environment can provide – we have exceeded our limits. But if we want to lift billions out of poverty we will need to use even more . . . clearly we’re going to need to change the way we do things.
But we can’t change the world so what’s the point ?
The reason I started writing Next Starfish was to try and answer this question – to challenge attitudes of powerlessness, apathy and indifference.
The idea is by informing, encouraging, inspiring and by providing ideas and examples of changes we can make in our own individual lives, families, organisations, communities and social networks, we can not only minimise our negative impact on the world, but maximise our positive one! In the (disputed) words of anthropologist Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.
We all have a tendency to compartmentalise our lives, thinking of poverty or environmental damage as something that happens to someone else, or somewhere else, but the fact is the world is interconnected and our own lives and lifestyles cannot be divorced from these problems. Our world is not the world ! Making the connections between our own attitudes and beliefs, our behaviours and actions and the state of the planet and the lives of others is both a challenging and empowering journey.
All good ideas need a manifesto (or perhaps I just like the word manifesto):
CHANGE LIVES - commit to being the change we want to see in the world
ACT NOW - make a start today, don’t overestimate what will be achieved tomorrow
THERE IS ENOUGH - challenge ourselves to live more generous lives
RIGHT HERE - bloom where we’re planted - thinking globally and acting locally
TOGETHER - don’t underestimate the ability of collective passion to change the world
ENCOURAGE - go easy on the criticism and lend a hand instead, don’t do guilt
IT’S COMPLICATED - accept that every complex problem has a solution that is clear, simple and wrong
AGREE TO DISAGREE - no-one has all the answers, debate is an opportunity to learn
HOPEFUL BUT REALISTIC - cynical pessimism & rose-tinted optimism both lead to denial & inaction
SMILE - we are generally as happy as we choose to be, enjoy life and help others enjoy theirs
So why Next Starfish ? Read this short story.
Of course as individuals we can’t change the entire world, but everything we do, or don’t do, makes a difference.
There is another, perhaps better known, Jewish saying:
“Whoever saves a life, saves the world entire”
Photo by The Marque, via Flickr