People who suggest individual action doesn’t matter on the scale we need to restore Earth’s ability to sustain life don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t mean that figuratively.
What they’re saying is like telling someone there’s no point in changing their baby’s diaper when it won’t solve infant mortality and that, besides, the baby will need its next diaper changed too.
We change our baby’s diapers to help the vulnerable, helpless baby. We consider it our duty. It brings us reward, even if it keeps us from doing other things. We know we value our babies’ health. Yes, keeping our babies healthy helps reduce infant mortality, for which we’re glad, but we don’t really do it for the rest of the world. We do it because we can’t imagine not doing it. Could you imagine leaving your baby with his or her diaper soiled for more than a moment?
Most of my life, I didn’t think or care how my behavior affected others through the environment. I flew, ate packaged food, and bought things I didn’t need to indulge myself. Then I tried living more sustainably. Those actions taught me how connected we are.
Now I avoid polluting and pick up litter to help vulnerable, helpless people. I consider it my duty, not something to complain about. It brings reward, even if it keeps me from doing other things. I value human and wildlife health. Yes, acting sustainably helps increase Earth’s ability to sustain life, for which I’m glad, but I do it because now I can’t imagine not doing it. I couldn’t imagine polluting the environment or not cleaning others’ pollution for more than a moment.
Sustainability: the Most Human We Can Act
Stewardship and sustainability aren’t distractions from a better life. If our behavior hurts people and Earths’ ability to sustain life, acting to help those vulnerable and helpless to defend themselves against our hurting them is the most human thing we can do.
Feeling connected to others, to everyone, is glorious. Not visiting Macchu Pichu in favor of helping others is no loss whether because you’re a parent of children or a steward of nature.
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