There were great articles on where and how to create peace in The Shift Network newsletter. I didn’t read them. I couldn’t read them because…I don’t know. I didn’t want to read about people doing cruel things to each other or systematically destroying our planet. I feel helpless in the midst of the current chaos and friction in the world and, well, I don’t think I am really willing to compromise. And compromise we must in order to find the common ground that will bring us peaceful coexistence.
I don’t even want to be around people who are slightly angry – their negative energy physically hurts my body. So I avoid conflict. I avoid disgruntled people. I avoid anger.
But that isn’t going to really make things better. I have to participate. I have to compromise. I have to find common ground.
We are all totally interconnected
My action here affects your life there. If we both don’t raise our consciousness, we will neither one improve our level of participation, our level of life experience.
For instance, if I am not consciously recycling trash, it may end up in the ocean affecting the fish you need to catch to feed your family.
We each have different priorities, but we’re all connected.
Can we have one core focus?
When we each decide that our primary concern/focus is sustaining our planet for ourselves, for our children, for our descendants, then we immediately identify specific steps to take. No pesticides. No GMO. More organic food production, no plastic wraps for food, positive emission steps to help slow climate change. When we think of our future, our consciousness shifts and we make different choices.
If you and I lived in a community built around a central garden that provides all our food, we would each do our best to make it the best, most productive garden we could. We might try different methods. And we would probably have an argument over organic versus genetically modified. And I bet it would be an animated conversation, depending on what we each thought was more important – quantity or quality.
We need to find common values
Let’s say everyone in our small community that has gathered around this one garden primarily wants to be healthy. Finding common ground, common values is where you begin. But do you know how many versions of how to be healthy there will be? One for each of us.
An important awareness we must each develop is to know that we’re free to do what’s best for us according to our own knowledge and understanding – as long as it only affects us.
As long as it only affects us. So you really can’t put pesticides out anywhere near my organic vegetables because they will drift over to my plants and I won’t eat any of your genetically modified produce. We have to grow our own food separately because our viewpoints are so opposing. And yet our fundamental, common goal is the same. Feed ourselves and our families. We simply have different ideas on how to make that happen.
I’m not going to change and you’re not going to change because our beliefs are very, very strong and it’s our survival we’re talking about, what we eat.
That’s both a terrible example and a good example. I’m a vegan so I have lots of strong feelings about what I eat. But it does highlight just how core our opposing viewpoints can be and how difficult it can be to find common ground.
Fortunately, in today’s world, you can buy what you want and I can buy what I want. Although here we go again, pesticides are killing the bumblebees and genetically modified food puts the entire food chain at risk of being totally eradicated because it is not diverse and if it goes, our entire food supply will go.
Learn the facts
If you never thought about what’ll happen if all crops were genetically modified, it might be good to do some online research. Who is pushing for it (one chemical company) and what are the repercussions? One new blight, one adverse organism could wipe out our entire food supply.
The dying, pesticide-poisoned bumblebee population is important to remedy because they are necessary for the cross-pollination of our crops. Before we dig our heals in on a particular position we owe it to ourselves and to our world to educate ourselves about the degree of repercussions our choice would/could make. We need to keep up with the latest discoveries, the new solutions, and be open to changing our views. The old way is obsolete nearly as fast as we figure it out. Change is a constant and we absolutely must be willing to keep up with it.
Live and let live only goes so far
We don’t live on the planet alone. Every action we take affects everything, everyone. We must learn to live as globally conscious, flexible, innovative members of a planetary community. I have no idea how to get everyone to do that. I can see how a group of like-minded people would choose to live around a cooperative organic garden. But what about the rest of the people in their community? If they are doing things we see as destructive to our planet, what do we do?
We each have to give up something
We have to find common ground. We will each have to compromise, give a little. Maybe give way a lot.
But wait. If I mess up my food source, I’ll die. That’s pretty basic. I can see a “live and let live” approach to a lot of things – free choice about a lot of things – until it infringes on my clean air, my organic garden, my fresh water. Then I dig in and refuse to budge. That’s my survival that’s being messed with.
If I were starving, I’d eat pretty much anything. But we don’t have to get to the starving stage to find agreement.
It’s when we come together to build something that conflict arises because compromise must be the core of collaboration.
Let’s say we, in our community of both organic and non-organic believers, come together to organize and expand our town.
First, we have to decide between short term and long-term planning. What is our over-arching goal? Then we have to examine the repercussions. Everything is tied to everything else, so if I pull a string here, something unravels or tangles up over there. Are we exchanging one knot for another? What is best for the highest good? How does filling this need now impact our children’s lives?
The first step is to agree on our over-arching purpose
What is our over-arching purpose for this planet? Survival would probably get everyone’s vote. How we do that starts the discussion and referee the arguments. We may have to compromise because of cost. We may have to prioritize because of pressing need. We may have to forgo immediate results in order to take active foundational steps because they create positive long-term results. We have to see the overview and hold it in front of us as we plan. We have to see the connection, how this move here will affect that situation over there. And we have to hold the same primary goal and keep moving toward our agreed upon end goal as we move forward together.
Oh yes, and we all have to be flexible as the movement unfolds. We have to make adjustments for new discoveries, and new entanglements.
So I’m going to join with other organic gardeners and have a plot to grow my food. I’ll share some of my organic produce with those who have made other choices. I may or may not point out how much healthier and stronger those of us who eat organic are, but maybe that will simply become noticeable. That gradual awareness may cause others to make more conscious choices for their own well-being.
That works unless I am forced to eat genetically modified food with pesticides on it.
Then we’re back to core conflict.
We must each learn to see the overview
If you’re in survival mode only, you can’t raise your gaze to see the long-term. You don’t see the water table lowering or the seas rising or the glaciers melting. You can’t look that far beyond today’s survival. Therefore, you can’t or won’t be able to see how your actions of today affect the future. Your focus is on the ground before you, one foot of survival at a time.
But those of us who can see the overview must take steps to protect us all. We can begin to do that by example. If an organic diet makes us live longer, then others will see it. If I carry my cloth grocery bag to the grocery store, others will see it and may think to carry their own. If I’m very careful to recycle what I can, perhaps I need to offer to carry my neighbor’s recycling out for her to make certain it’s done.
What can you offer to do for someone else that moves the world a little closer to wellness?
I can network. I can tell my neighbors that when I order my groceries delivered, the drivers will take the plastic bags from the last delivery back and the store ships them to a special place for reprocessing. They may not know that. They may not choose to do that. But I have passed forward the information of some positive, environmentally supportive choices they can make.
Raise your consciousness and the consciousness of others
I didn’t know the water table in Cape Town, South Africa, was so low it was at crisis level until I watched a PBS news report, which also informed me that California has a similar water table problem. I have no idea how a water table works or how to protect one. I’m in the mid-west so I’m not certain what I can do about either of those particular problems, but I can educate myself to figure out what that means and how my community is caring for our water table.
If it turns out we need to make changes, I could go so far as to report what I find to the local government. Maybe I have to do some educating. And find like-minded people who are concerned. And be pro-active in helping to find a solution.
We cannot just sit around and let it happen to us
Many people will do nothing. It’s simply not in their nature. They’ll accept whatever shows up. Others may find one particular cause, like animals that are nearing extinction, and donate money or join groups who are being pro-active in saving public lands.
Whatever you’re called to do to preserve our planet, do it. Make it a positive participation. Make certain it moves the cause forward. Even if it’s in your small corner of the world. Let others know what you found. Give them the information they need to make informed and more pro-active choices.
Raise your sights. Raise your values. Be an influencer
Do not settle. Be an influencer. Make others aware of their choices and the repercussions of their actions through education and actions. Don’t force. Just do. Be an example. Raise the level of consciousness in your corner of the world and when you look up, you’ll find there are others around the world doing the same. Meet each other’s gaze and keep going.
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