I was talking with a friend the other day about the state of the world, as you do. And it is only too easy to get depressed and feel powerless as you go through the things that are in a mess: politics, our injustices, our environmental issues, our broken institutions and support systems, the high levels of stress that most people seem to have.
But feeling depressed and powerless doesn’t make any difference to anything, except us, in a negative sense. So we launched into what we can do that makes a positive difference.
Firstly, we need to notice any positives there are: the gradual slow improvements that underlie the mess. For example, most people in the UK do now recycle a lot more than we used to, and we now have more awareness of bad behaviour and poorly run institutions, because they are scrutinised more and that information is available. This helps us to have a more positive frame of mind.
Secondly, we can educate ourselves. That increase in information means that we can find out more, and have all sides of the argument before we form our opinions.
Thirdly, we can take action. This can be as simple as reducing our own use of plastic, or treating others as we would like to be treated. Being the change we want to see in the world is more powerful than we realise: if everyone did a little bit more in their own lives to make the world a better place, it would change the world.
And we can go further. We can talk about the issues with others, share the expanded information we discover, and influence them to also take more action in their lives. In this, we need to be careful not to become judgemental or evangelical in our attitude. I don’t change someone else’s view by trying to bully them into it, or by criticising them. And I need to respect their position. But I can expand their view, or explain more clearly my own reasons, or suggest possible benefits to them of making a change.
Finally, we can make our voices heard. We can join in protests, vote, write to our newspapers/MP’s – we can come out of the silent majority.
I’m not prepared to sit passively by and see our world go to hell in a handcart – are you? I may not be a Greta Thunberg – I’m not that courageous – but I can do my bit…