We Can’t Do Everything, But We Can Do Something

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“To find the way, close your eyes, listen closely, and attend with your heart.” ~ Anonymous

Many people dismiss the emotional, intuitive side of life as too soft and unreliable. This is unfortunate. We actually need that feminine, heart-centered view of life.  Because we live in a world that’s being run into the ground by people who worship money, greed, anger and stupidity, the imbalance is striking. If the actions of the greed meisters only affected them, perhaps we could all shrug our shoulders and let them bury themselves in bullshit. But the rest of us have to live here too, and the greed and willful blindness of a small minority is setting everyone else up for catastrophe.

“People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.” ~ Wendell Berry

Last weekend, at the behest of my mother, I watched an interview that Bill Moyers did with the poet and writer, Wendell Berry (no relation).  In it, Berry talked about the reason he’s still hopeful for the future on this planet. He indicated that more and more now, average, anonymous people are stepping forward and, “doing the things they see need to be done.” Without fanfare or notice, they are planting trees, growing gardens, fostering puppies, and rocking babies. They are spearheading peace vigils, organic movements, cooperative grocery stores, and sustainable businesses. They are moving back onto the land and embracing nature; connecting again with the soil, sky, trees, and animals, all of whom never divorced themselves from that deep river of connection that flows between all things. The wildness of the earth knows everything’s connected.

That is something human beings must learn.

But, still, we cannot despair.

Why? You might ask.

Because we’ve got human history behind us. We’ve got the capacity to change course, as we have again and again throughout time.

If we can launch rockets and explore the time-space continuum, how can we not sort out climate change, sustainable food production, and an economic system that is equitable and fair? What choice do we have? If we do not re-shape our societies into collaborative, supportive collectives, the planet will shake us loose without a moment’s notice. If we continue to behave like parasites, we will either kill our host (and ourselves in the process), or our host (the big mammu, planet earth) will kill us.

The learning curve on this is certain and steep. Humanity is like a violent, sociopathic boyfriend, on a collision course with kissing his own ass goodbye.

However, if we wise up, we can embark on a totally new paradigm.

I vote new paradigm.

You?

Change Your Thoughts.  Change Your World.

As a teacher, it is my responsibility to engender hope in my students. It is crucial that young people are encouraged to run at the world’s problems with all their might, all their creativity, all their passion, all their ingenuity. If I believed — for even a second — that our predicament was hopeless, I would no longer be able to do my job.

I talked to a young man during office hours this week about my experience with books and ideas when I was at New York University nearly thirty years ago. I read Kafka and Karl Marx; the Bible and Charles Dickens; I read about Buddhism and American history. I read The Federalist Papers and The Ethics. I read epic stories and great plays. Based upon all that reading (and dialogue with other students and my professors) I learned to think. I also learned to love ideas, to question everything, and to have what I call, ‘a seeking mind.’

I see life as a learning lab. I don’t ever want to stop learning. To me, that is akin to spiritual death.

So, I told my student that he needs to read more. I asked him, “What are you interested in?”

Sustainability, architecture, green business.

Then, I made a few suggestions: Greenbiz.com, Collapse by Jared Diamond, and Garbage Warrior (a documentary about Michael Reynolds and his sustainable houses in Taos, NM) as possible starting points. I told him that those ideas might lead him to other interests, and from there he might discover a passion for permaculture or wetlands restoration or building schools in Pakistan.

The point is, we can each do something.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something.

Sometimes when I hear the cacophony of bullshit that passes for discourse in this country, I do want to throw my hands up in despair.

However, the reality is, humanity’s greatness lies in the single-minded brilliance and resilience of individual people taking action.  

So, what can I do today to change the world?  What can you do today to change the world?

Collectively, drop by drop, person by person, we can turn the tide.

© 2013  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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3 thoughts on “We Can’t Do Everything, But We Can Do Something

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am afraid I was quite sick in December and I am just now seeing this months later! I am glad to hear from you and know that you are out there doing whatever you can to turn the tide.

  1. Extremely well written, I wish I could write with such elegance……, impressive and persuasive…. Thank you for your thoughts, will do my part

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