What can I do for the earth? I’m doing a lot of the usual stuff, but being so enmeshed in the way this bankrupt old harmful culture is embedded in everything, I had to dig a little deeper. How does change happen? How does new culture lock into place?
I’ve found a key: gradual culture pattern shift. This isn’t new. Each day I let go of something that doesn’t help the earth. Now this only has to be an action, not a thought. Then the power of thought is yoked (like a yoga) to the action or activity. This is where all those little daily choices come in - the plastic straw that broke the camel’s back.
I’m talking small steps, not a sudden overwhelming transformation. We know that transformation is necessary and it’s coming. We can align with it one step a day. Daily actions bring new patterns of living into form. And not just new habits, but new daily dedication.
Linked to the daily action is the thought, “This is sustaining the planet, sustaining life for the future.” My contribution to the war effort, as it were. So when I choose not to do something that would be harmful, a thought like this comes up, “My action is standing together with others who also made this small choice or action.” This is how we get 500,000 people striking together in Montreal, or how we had 100,000 in Vancouver. Walking together, there is an aggregate of meaning and power.
At the Vancouver Climate Strike, I thought that if Greta were in the crowd, she would just be a small slight girl, unnoticed. The actions we do each day are like that. Just one small thing. When I decide, “no”, the decision is way beyond the kind of choice behind those two limited doors marked “Lady” or “Tiger”. It isn’t a choice, or a test, at all, but a necessity. To shift old habits, I’m gaming it, tricking my mind. So I call it a “choice” and then choose not to do it. It becomes simple, do-able. No biggie.
Choosing “no” to one action leads to a creative alternative that soon becomes a positive action. As the “no” fades, the “yes” comes into view. There is a significant figure/ground play in these actions. The figure in front becomes the ground for a previously unseen figure that emerges from the old ground.
The“no” and “yes” are a sort of toggle switch that can communicate a flash to unseen not-yet-created aspects. The switch creates a surge of caring for our home, signalling our actions as connected with others. It sends transpersonal waves to wherever they can land, sparking a sort of musical resonance that feeds back into the great system.
We know it is not enough. Greater awareness requires political participation on all levels - home, neighbourhood, city, province, country, hemisphere, world - expanding like the Buddhist loving-compassion meditation, but with action, not only thought. Lama Kaldan said the Dalai Lama gave monks permission to fight their way out of Tibet in ‘59, and some did. If we live on the earth, we fight to preserve it, to renew and realign it for the future generations. That isn’t just a phrase, I’m talking about people. My granddaughters’ children’s children.
Every day I can do something for the earth, and the beauty is that the action is totally scalable - macro or micro. When I say “no”, and make a different choice, I’m engaging the switch. When I do something to say “yes”, supporting the earth, the switch is flipped, it flashes. The figure/ground dance does its turn. With each switch, every day, the new figure comes more clearly into view.
This is active wisdom. It isn’t hard to do. Call it all in.
Two unfailingly great newsletters by journalists (also on Substack.) I get the free versions.
Tsuut’ina Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild’s talk to Calgary Rotary. LINK (Subscribe to his updates there, too.)
Follow my friend Julia Manitius on her trip to Copenhagen HERE
Today’s Quotes are from James K-M
“I think there should be more roles in movies for Vulcans.”
“Thelonious Monk is the reincarnation of Hieronymus Bosch.”
Thanks for hanging in there. Please help my weekly email reach new readers who don’t yet know they want to open and read it. Share a post if you think it’s good or if you want to encourage me to do better. Ask a friend or two to subscribe - it’s always free. (Big bouquets to some of you who already have!) If you don’t want to go so far, and perhaps risk your reputation, I understand. You can just anonymously click on the heart - help my personal newsletter make it onto Substack’s list. Or just keep reading - it means a lot to me, and I’m grateful.