I recently found myself in a quandary. What charitable cause should I try to give money to if I were to donate my yoga class? What do I want to champion?
Some are easy, right? Write a check to a group. They do the grunt work. We sit in the glow of “feel-good.”
Some are more grounded, you see where each dollar goes. You see the face of someone or the actual goods and services that your contribution went to.
And aside from rolling up our sleeves to actually effect change – feed a baby, build a house, remove bodies after an earthquake…scrub a bird – some are even harder to wrap our arms around.
The hardest thing to wrap our arms around right now is the major artery bleed in the Gulf of Mexico known as the BP oil disaster. I feel crippled as a citizen of this planet.
Our most precious resource – water – is being contaminated to a level none of us have yet to fully appreciate. Every second she bleeds lifetimes of our future. I don’t mean our future driving cars! I mean our future in existence. Already bird by bird, fish by fish, plankton, coral, algae…our air – is dying from this criminal poisoning of our planet.
Now I’m not going to rant on the ultimate ineptitude, selfishness and arrogance of British Petroleum. Once I go there I may not return. So let me keep my focus on Mother Earth, front of mind and championing a cause.
I know that scrubbing a bird is a heartfelt gesture at best. Still it is an act of compassion toward a sentient being.
I know most of anything we can do as individuals is ground-level stuff. But I want to start a groundswell damnit! I want to feel the earth move, tremor from our stampeding feet!
How do we make this front-of-mind for each of us EVERY day? How selfish of us to go about our lives as normal? Driving two blocks for a petty item at a convenience store.
How selfish of us to sit and watch television sitcoms happily numbing ourselves from reality each night? How ultimately sad and ignorant of us to keep eating shrimp, oysters, and other seafood from the Gulf. It’s not about supporting a fisherman’s way of life. It’s about sustaining and rebuilding an ecosystem and species! If a shrimp culture is still alive, why don’t we give them the best chance to continue to exist? To heal? To reproduce? To sustain itself? Won’t we be sad if there comes a day where there are no more shrimp or oysters (which by the way weren’t put on the planet for our delight of cocktail sauce and butter). Did you NEED to go to that sushi house the other day? Did you notice the buy one-get one deal on frozen shrimp and not wonder why it was so cheap? Did you notice the cost of gas going down and not scratch your head in wonder? Or did you fill up the tank and drive home with a double load of shrimp for the fryer?
It’s easy to sit and analyze and judge BP and politicians and point fingers. Don’t get me wrong – there’s lots that need to be analyzed in order not to repeat our errors.
But it’s easy to let the energy it takes to work up a fluster about Tony Haywood and Barack Obama to make us feel as though we’ve done something. Then we sleep off the exhaustion under the dulling droning beat of our daily routines and lifestyles of consumerism.
Don’t deceive yourselves. We’ve done NOTHING to stop this tragedy. In the span of several months we’ve sat and talked ourselves into a froth on television talk shows, we’ve clicked our computer mouse in search of photos to lament or hit “share” on, and ultimately our vacations are still on track but maybe we’ve moved to another coast for our beach experience.
Really? Is this a groundswell?
So what can I/we do to make this front of mind?
It starts with making it quite literally front of mind. Commit a space at my home altar for the Gulf. Maybe a photo of the underwater cam? Or a bird drowned in black goo.
Say no to petroleum. Inventory your daily lives. I’ve gone car-free for almost two years but I accept a lot of rides in cars. I need to keep cutting the unnecessary and gratuitous use of gasoline. What does that mean? Lawnmowers? Leafblowers? Did you buy your food from a local farmer or did it get trucked from California?
Water!!! Um folks, this really seems like a no-brainer to me. I look at this disaster daily and wonder what’s the ultimate impact on our water supply. It’s all connected. Every drop is connected to every drop. Aquifers. Rivers. Ocean currents. How long until we see it in our faucets? I’m not saying a plume is going to come flowing through your spigot. But we also didn’t know how much antibiotics were in our water supplies either.
So – don’t trap our water in bottles.
Use reusable bottles. This isn’t for novelty or trend. It’s to save our planet and lives! If you see a bottle of full water on the side of the road, pick it up – feed a plant or something. Free those precious molecules.
Inform yourselves! Look beyond your televisions PLEASE! Read from news sources in the Gulf itself. Listen to multiple news sources (radio is NOT DEAD). Check out some podcasts (Earthbeat radio, Democracy Now, Deconstructing Dinner, KCRW….)
Ask your own questions, not to yourself as you’re listening. Write them down! Then type them into the Google and see what comes up. If the answers don’t come or you’re seeing that the question isn’t being asked – START ASKING!!!
I still haven’t figured out how to make the money from my yoga class go toward this biggest cause. But I think I’m on the way to living my yogic practice for the earth.