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Why Should We Care? (Part One)

Posted in: Blog by amy on March 6, 2012

Last weekend, there was a theme that kept emerging … a subject that wouldn’t leave my mind. It was about our place here on this Earth. The conversation began Friday night at my daughter’s soccer game. I was talking with a dad, and we got into the topic of life, death, our brief time here, how our actions impact the globe, etc. (you know, the typical sideline talk!). Of course, it’s not conventional chatter, which is what made it even more meaningful and memorable.

We agreed on many thoughts and theories; however, he was much more cynical than I when we got to discussing one individual’s ability to make a difference in the world. He felt that we have already caused so much irreversible damage to the planet that our current attempts to “go green” will likely have an impact so diminutive that it will be irrelevant in the long run. I quickly brought up the mentality that many charities have when they say that every dollar counts — that if everyone gave even just one dollar, the impact would be tremendous. I correlated that philosophy with that of caring for our planet. If everyone, for example, committed to being meat-free just one day a week, the amount of animals’ lives that would be spared yearly would be in the millions (not to mention a myriad of other environmental benefits that our planet would enjoy).

And, from the moment I left the soccer game, this conversation has not left me. It has been on my mind, and it keeps popping up everywhere I go. You know how the Universe sometimes speaks to you, if you’re paying attention. It gives you a message in many different forms. Well, I’m getting the message: I need to pay attention. We all need to pay attention.

Dr. Seuss was expressing this message dozens of years ago, and over the weekend, it was expressed to more than 70 million moviegoers (including my youngest daughter and myself) who went to see The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” The movie touched on many environmental concerns and pointed out how off-track we can get, especially if someone stands to make money. In the movie, the “bad guy” was selling bottled air to all of the town’s inhabitants. We laugh at this premise as we spend our days drinking water from bottles even though we live in areas that always appear on lists of “towns with the best drinking water.” Yet, we like the taste, the convenience, the habit. We don’t care if there is overwhelming evidence that the plastic from these bottles is harmful to our planet and to our bodies. We don’t care that the majority of the bottles never are recycled. We simply don’t care. But, this isn’t true. We DO care, we just don’t want to LET ourselves care. We don’t want to hear about it because then we’d have to make some changes.

A friend of mine who has a love for animals posts many disturbing pictures on Facebook  in which animal cruelty is depicted. I’ve seen many people request that she stops sharing these images as they find them too upsetting. People would rather not think about it. It’s too unsettling, so they would rather pretend that it does not exist. How many times has this happened in our world? How many times (including this very moment) are grave atrocities occurring around the world that we can’t bear to acknowledge? It’s the kind of stuff that keeps us awake at night. (Ironically, it’s 3:00 a.m. as I write this.)

So, back to the point: It’s hard to care. I know that. And, like the dad and I discussed at the soccer game, it’s challenging to believe that your singular life, your individual actions, can actually make a difference. So, you buy another case of water bottles and you toss that water bottle in the trash, believing that our world is so destroyed already. What’s the difference? It’s a scientific fact that the Earth will one day die — the sun will burn out. Does it really matter if all of our efforts help to extend the life of the planet or make conditions more pleasant for all living beings? WHY SHOULD WE CARE? That is the question that is being shouted in my ears.

We should care because caring in itself has an impact on the world. If we all FELT more, if we all were more aware, if we all were more conscious, we would simply be better people. To feel. To care. To be awake. To pay attention. These are the very traits that make human life so unique and special and potentially wonderful. We can laugh and cry and be present. We can feel heartache and pain and experience laughter and joy. We can be upset by something and shout for change.

Or we can just float through our days numbly believing that our time is meaningless and our impact is minuscule and our actions have no consequences.

But, caring in itself does the world good! It makes us more compassionate beings. Even if our personal water bottle usage does not have a great impact on our planet, the fact that we care about something, anything, DOES have an impact on our days.

This is a topic that comes up continually in discussions at the workplace, in our homes, at our soccer games, and even most recently in the local synagogue’s bulletin. Am Shalom in Glencoe just announced that it is now “Water Bottle-free” because of the disturbing evidence about the hazards that water bottles present to our health and our oceans and our globe as a whole. I was so relieved to see that they decided to take a stand. I was so proud to see that my community cares.

This discussion is getting louder and louder. I thank you for reading my thoughts. I thank you for caring. This is part one for me in terms of blogging about this topic. Now that the floodgates have been opened, I have so much more I want to say. But, I need some sleep, and I need to acknowledge that the average reader’s attention span is limited. I will write more soon. And, I hope you continue to read as you continue to consider, as you continue to care.

Dr. Seuss’ words (which he wrote in 1971) are worth stating here one more time as it’s the perfect reminder 41 years later:

 “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

And, I’ll note that I reached under my seat and grabbed the popcorn box and other garbage as we exited the theater. I observed that many other movie-goers did the same. It’s hard not to care when Dr. Seuss’ reminder is strewn across the massive movie screen. Maybe our extra efforts won’t make any difference. Or, maybe they’ll have a great influence on the future of our planet. Either way, just being compassionate and aware surely has an impact on TODAY.

 

 

Additional information:

http://www.meatfreemondays.com/

http://www.amshalom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=253:am-shalom-is-qwater-bottle-freeq

 



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4 Responses to “Why Should We Care? (Part One)”

  1. jojo says:

    I try to make changes one at a time. Got rid of paper towels for Turbo hand dryer. Bought a reusable cup for my ice coffee and water. Went to natural chicken and cleaner fryer oil at work. Try doing one little change a month and stick to it.

    Kiss:-)

  2. amy says:

    I agree — little changes can have huge impacts. Many people feel they’ve gotta be all or nothing — that’s why the concept of meat-free Mondays is so brilliant. Baby steps …

  3. Rocky says:

    Great point Amy -I’m seriously tempted to make up “I speak for the trees’ as my company t-shirts (full credit to Seuss/Lorax, of course). Running a ‘green’ business definitely makes a distinct difference in my own attitude, and a small beneficial impact on our shared environment as well. I believe that the positive result of even a small effort, when multiplied by many, can achieve tremendous goals. Better late than never, right?

  4. amy says:

    I like that — a “distinct difference in attitude.” And I want that t shirt if you get around to making them!

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