I read an interesting excerpt from an article recently. It quoted Van Jones, the board president and co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. I appreciated his statements about environmentalism and the disposable mindset that leads to degradation as a whole.
Jones said, â€œIs a green economy only about reclaiming throwaway stuff or it it also about reclaiming throwaway communities, throwaway people, throwaway children?â€ He links the large prison population in the United States with the concepts of environmentalism stating, â€œTo me it’s no surprise that the country that has the world’s biggest pollution problem also has the most prisons. We’ve got a disposable mindset: disposable products, disposable species, disposable people. We don’t see our sisters and brothers, much less the animal species, as sacred. The failure to honor the sacred is at the root of both problems.â€
I was immediately struck by his words and the impact of a disposable world mindset. It’s all about fast food, fast living, fast talking and fast money. As everyone rushes to get theirs, no one else on the path matters. Grab that three dollar latte and two dollar pastry that clogs your arteries. Step over that homeless person with no food instead of eating at home and donating four dollars to a homeless shelter. Throw the empty latte cup out the car window so it lands on protected wetlands. Steal the customer of the associate who works next to you at the office to get that bonus. Stop at happy hour and celebrate by getting imbibed while you insult the waitress on a 12-hour shift. Is everyone guilty at some point of being in a destructive disposable mindset?
As we admonish officials and reject ridiculous laws, we also have to start with ourselves. As we begin to realize the imprint we all make on the world as individuals, we can more clearly recognize the lies of our leaders. This mindset has to extend to all people in society, from all backgrounds. Our own personal perspectives can’t be compromised as we rationalize about having to deal with the world around us.
Jones went on to say, â€œEven now, during the presidential campaign, you donâ€™t hear a full-throated call for the sort of World War IIâ€“level mobilization that itâ€™s going to take to avert ecological catastrophe. If you look at the scientific data on global warming, you can see that we canâ€™t avoid a wholesale disaster unless we put this country back to work â€” putting up solar panels, weatherizing buildings, and constructing wind farms on a massive scale.â€
While I will not get into the presidential campaign at this time, I agree that the focus is clearly not on aggressively addressing the environmental imprint on the world. As presidential candidates banter and bicker, Bush continues his war machine that eats up billions of dollars and pads the pockets of those good ol’ boys with a “throwaway” people mentality. Cloning is on the forefront and we won’t even know what we’re eating. Somehow this doesn’t seem to be improving to the world.
We need to get prepared by starting at home. While individual efforts aren’t enough to reverse the damage done, it feels better to be part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem. It all starts with a mindset. If we remain discouraged because of the negativity around us, we won’t feel motivated toward change.
Taking back personal power is a beginning. Getting your inner space back. We have lost this in a disposable, fast-paced and overcrowded society. Regaining your sense of self and creating a calmness clears the mind for rational thoughts. Those rational thoughts lead to intelligent action. As each individual takes responsibility for this aspect of themselves, we are already improving the world. When you think more clearly, you are less able to feed into the automatic actions of the world around you.
I recently discovered laughter yoga. It actually involves forced laughter to release stress, improve breathing and help you find that lost inner self through meditation. It was very effective and also reminded me of the importance of laughter. While the world around us has little to laugh about, finding that inner space gives you serenity and a positive perspective.
As our perspective improves, it becomes difficult to waste money or shun the needy. When we realize our place in the world, we learn to use our talents rather than take from others. As laughter becomes a part of everyday life, we don’t need substances or social classes to feel better. From there, we can learn to have respect for the world around us instead of using it as a garbage pail for trash â€“ both physically and emotionally.