January 13, 2011

Embracing Change

Japanese Kanji symbol for Change

Fear often causes us to resist change, even if adopting the change results in positive benefits for us. People get paralyzed by familiarity and the illusion of security, or by blind adherence to antiquated modes of being. This often prevents us from adopting change that is good and right.

But if western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of the planet, as Terence McKenna has suggested, then we must embrace change before we lose our hostage. We need changes, big changes, and we need them to happen relatively quickly.

"In order to cut CO2 emissions to the levels that would be necessary to prevent drastic climate change, many details of the modern American lifestyle have to change – not sometime off in the future, but right now. The automobile needs to become much less pervasive than it is today; even an electric car has to get its electricity from somewhere, and for the time being, that “somewhere” is going to be a power plant that burns coal or natural gas. Air travel needs to become a very occasional luxury at most. The McMansion with its cathedral ceilings and blind disregard for energy efficiency needs to give way to much more modest structures. Energy efficiency needs to become at least as central to daily life as it was during the last round of energy crises."  - John Michael Greer

But were do we begin when so much needs to be done? How do we change our 5 planet lifestyles back to 1 planet ones? Leo Tolstoy keenly observed that, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Change must begin by first looking in the mirror.

I take change very seriously for if I can't change myself, how can I expect to instigate change in anyone else? I must ask, "How can I change myself to help create a better world?" As I change my own behaviour, I begin to help change the world through my fearless (and possibly misguided) example.

So I take on challenges that require me to change in order to create the better world I envision. Sometimes, I react with fear and resistance as I ask myself to do more, or less. But I try to focus on the larger picture of 7 generations, or 70 generations, or 700.

Not using toilet paper, walking and biking to reduce reliance on oil, eating low on the food chain, and traveling less are all examples of changes that I have made in my life while trying to find the good and the right thing to do.

Kanji symbol for Fear or Terror

Are they good and right? Only time will tell, but in the process of trying them I am freeing myself to respond to situations with creativity and a sense of curiosity and experimentation. Fear and the status quo detract us from moving ahead, and they must be balanced with confidence and a vision for a more equitable, more sustainable world.

Change is the only sure thing in the years ahead, and the sooner we embrace the changes that need to be made, the better off our planet will be. And what is good for the planet is good for us. How are you changing in response to our planetary hostage-taking?

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