The problem with elections, with votes of any kind, is that the process is inherently divisive. Whatever the result, there are winners and losers. The majority picks the direction we will take, for a little while, and everyone else just has to make the best of it. Given human nature, it seems like there’s a constant battle between tradition and progress. We’re all voting for a better world, we just disagree about what that means.
However, since we know that today’s children are likely to be the first generation less healthy than their parents, and that millennials will be the first generation less wealthy than their parents, it seems like we’re heading in the wrong direction. We seem to be stuck in a world where the atmospheric carbon level is permanently above 400ppm, and will need to take some drastic action to mitigate (not prevent) the effects of climate change. One in 10 UK wildlife species faces extinction, a pattern we’re seeing all across the world. I could go on, but I won’t.
We know why. It’s about money, and the people who have it trying to keep it for themselves, whilst convincing us the benefits will trickle down to the rest of us. A rising tide floats all boats, they say. And we buy it.
So if, this morning, you’re feeling down and wondering what on Earth you can do – stop buying it. Stop buying palm oil from plantations that are destroying rain forests and dooming the orang utan (among others). Stop replacing your mobile/cell phone every 5 minutes, because the minerals it needs are being mined in conflict zones. So are diamonds, but I suspect that’s not much of an issue for my readers 😉 Boycott companies who advertise in newspapers that are fuelling hate. This isn’t about curtailing freedom of speech, it’s about using our spending power to send a message to those who only listen to money. It’s about using social proof to show what is and isn’t acceptable. It used to be acceptable to spout racist and sexist baloney in public. Things have changed, things can change.
It’s hard to keep track of who owns what, and who is funding what. Ethical Consumer can help with that. They also have a guide to carbon divestment – ensuring that your money isn’t being used to fund fossil fuels. Ethical banks and building societies won’t use your money to fund weapons, alcohol or gambling, either. They invest in things that build, rather than destroy, lives – such as organic food and farming, renewable energy, recycling and nature conservation. If you bank with Tesco Bank, this might be a good time to make a change! It won’t cost you anything, and these days banks have to make it easy for you to move your accounts elsewhere.
It’s an old-fashioned idea, but save your pennies and buy things that are made to last. Buy things that can be repaired, and that can be recycled at the end of their life. Or don’t buy – rent and lease, share and swap, beg and borrow. Everyone has their own lawnmower, but most people only need it for an hour or so at the weekend…. If you have things you don’t need then find a new home for them, whether you need the money and sell them on eBay, or can take them down the charity shop to help people who have less.
Buy organic. Look for a box scheme that delivers to you, and avoid the living hell that is shopping in a supermarket. Buy ingredients, not ready meals. Learn to cook. Learn to sew. Learn to grow.
Plant some seeds. Harvest some herbs. Get involved in a community project, whether it’s your local Incredible Edibles, a carbon action group, Master Composters, Master Gardeners, gleaners, food banks… whatever’s going on in your local community. Whatever your local community needs.
We’re constantly told that we don’t have enough money. That we don’t have enough time. But giving time away makes you feel more time-rich, so time spent volunteering is never wasted.
A mindset based on scarcity creates fear, creates conflict, creates jealousy and hatred.
Sow seeds, plant hope, create abundance.
When the game is stacked against you, the only winning move is not to play. If the events of 2016 have made you want to hit these bullies where it hurts, then aim for their wallets.