Oneness Vs Autonomy

“Step by step the longest march
Can be won can be won
Many stones can form an arch
Singly none singly none
And by union what we will
Can be accomplished still
Drops of water turn a mill
Singly none singly none”

1280px-Moulin_dussart_01I heard these words sung on the radio today, and I’m trying to decide how I like them.  My first thought is a resounding “Amen!”  There is truly nothing that we “singly” can do.  Without the sun, without the earth, without our fellow creatures, and our fellow man.  We are all interconnected, and we can all band together in love to make the world a better place.

But then a rebellious thought rushes in.  What if I don’t care for marching, and would rather sit by the stream?  What if I’d rather be a rolling stone than a stone in an arch?  What if I am a drop of water that doesn’t want to “turn the mill?”  What if my aim is to evaporate, join the cirrus and float about in a wisp of white?

So, do we take the path of cooperation, or individuality?  Is there a middle ground between oneness and autonomy?

BONUS HAIKU!

Too Many Choices

I cannot make up my mind

I’ll let you decide

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The End is Near; Let’s All Get Fanny Packs

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If you listen to me speak, or follow me on Facebook, or read my blog,  you will get an idea of my moral and ethical principals.  You might even think I’m radical, or going against the grain.

But what if I never spoke a word.  What if I never typed a sentence.  What if I never shared a meme, or article, or video via social media.  Would my values still be clear?  Judging solely based on my actions, would you see me as a peaceful parent?  Not likely.  Looking at my possessions, would you see me as a minimalist?  That’s doubtful.  Observing my eating habits, would you find me to be a health nut?  Not even close.  Does the way I live my life even come close to reflecting any of the bold statements I make on a daily basis?  No.

I, my friends, am a fraud and a hypocrite.  I say one thing, and do another.  Because it’s much easier to say, isn’t it?  It requires no effort, no sacrifice, no change.  When I say “This is who I am” what I am really saying is “This is who I would be, if I wasn’t so damned scared.”

I know that I am not the only one.  I know that there are millions more like me, who beat the drum of sustainability, and freedom; oneness, and peace, but when it comes to real, meaningful change, we are full of excuses.

I don’t know when it happened, but some time not too long ago our society was given a choice.  We could either make some serious changes in the way we live our lives, or we could become cold, calloused and uncaring.  Sad as it is to say, we chose the latter.  We could never live our fast-food, consumerist, on-demand, high tech lifestyle while at the same time having a deep awareness of the implications of our actions.  So we chose to forget it.  To put up mental barriers, and block the consequences of our decisions from our minds.

But as much as we blind ourselves, those uncomfortable images do slip in from time to time.  Baby seals covered in oil.  Massive plastic islands.  Impenetrable smog clouds.  So, we do what any level headed, clear thinking species would do.  Make a few easy, small, “band-aid” changes that don’t actually address the problem, but give us the feeling that we are making a difference.  “Look!  The package for these plastic bags is made from 75% recycled material!” or “This chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified!”  It is good that people want to save the rainforest.  It’s good that we have recycling programs.  But at the rate we are going, we need much more drastic and immediate action if we want to sustain life on this planet.  Imagine a man planning to sell his house, and move to another country.  He checks his calendar, and sees that the date is getting closer, so he goes out and purchases a fanny pack.  No airline ticket, no realtor’s sign in his front yard.  Just a fanny pack.  That is where we are as a society.

The other coping mechanism, as I already mentioned, is to be very vocal about issues without actually making any lifestyle changes.  Maybe our friend with the fanny pack can purchase a shirt with an image of his new country’s flag, and tell everyone how great it is over there.   Now he’s ready.

At some point we will awaken from our comatose state.  When we do we will either look around and start making the necessary changes to save our planet, or we will look around and realize that it’s too late.

A Lasting Legacy

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Billions of people have tried, or are trying, to make a lasting legacy.  Many humans struggle with the idea that all too soon they will be dead, and eventually forgotten.  No matter how generous you are, no matter how heroic, no matter how many libraries you name after yourself, what office you h0ld, or how many records you break:  You will be forgotten.  After 100, 1000, or 10,000 years your name, your face, your life, will be wiped from history.

Forgotten but not Gone

While the details of your life will fade into obscurity, you will by no means be gone (Where would you go?).  Going on all around us is a constant exchange.  We breathe in the air taking in oxygen.  We breathe out releasing carbon dioxide.  Rain falls to the earth, enters the soil, and is taken up by the roots of a tree.  The tree uses the water, the carbon dioxide, and energy from the sun to create fruit.  We then eat the fruit, and its digestion is aided by trillions of micro-organisms living inside of us.  Nothing is stagnant.  Nothing stays still.  Matter and energy are constantly changing shape, changing hands, changing form, mixing, and melding.  This process continues after we die, the only difference is that there is no longer an entity that is notably and recognizably ‘you.’

Our bodies leftovers, however, will not be the only part of us to remain.  Every breath we take, every action, every thought, and every word, has an impact.  Each day we shape and change the world around us.  We all do, in fact, leave a legacy.  The legacy is not one that can be easily traced, nor one that is easily perceived by our fellowman.  But the earth knows.  and the earth will never forget.

So, if you want to leave a lasting legacy, be mindful of your actions.  Live each day with purpose, and take time to recognize your connection with every creature on this planet.  Headstones will eventually crumble, but the earth, and her creatures, will be around for some time.

Exponentially Grow Your Ability to Change the World

I have devoted a lot of time and energy to telling people they are wrong, that I am right, and that they should live the way I live (more like how I would like to live) in order to be happy.  I have gone about trying to change people, and change the world, by talking.  I’ve shared the Gospel,  I’ve spoken the wisdom of Buddha.  I’ve quoted various philosophers.  I’ve explained the health benefits of various diets, and the ills of processed foods.  “If only they knew”  I would think to myself, “If only they knew what they were doing wrong,” “If only they could hear this nugget of precious wisdom that changed my life, then they would be enlightened, and the world would be a better place”

But, as you may be aware, I haven’t saved the world yet.  We don’t live in a Utopia, and we haven’t all linked arms in a giant circle, or came together for an earth-wide embrace.  What am I doing wrong?  What’s missing?

Action.

Words are good, and talking things through can be very helpful, but nothing compares with action.  A hug needs no interpretation, but speaks volumes in any language.  A hand up, a smile, sacrificial giving when its needed most.  These things are real.  They are tangible, and they make an immediate, clear, and tangible change in the world.  Action inspires in a way that quotable quotes could only dream of.  A man who has been helped out of a crisis by a kind stranger will be motivated to do the same for another,

“My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.”