It feels like a strange time just now. Even the weather is strange. The temperatures and ambience in the air signal spring; the amount of sunlight signals still winter. My body does not seem to quite know what to do with that. On the one hand, it wants to leap forward with spring. On the other hand, it wants to hang back with winter and sleep.
I was going to write about something which I can see is true – a broad truth. However, I have begun to see its paradox – that the opposite is true as well, and that the encompassing truth lies somewhere in the middle. The broad truth is that although marching and protesting is good, eliminating fossil fuels is good, planting trees is good, giving up plastics is good, and so many more activities are excellent, it is not enough. It will take all of us making difficult lifestyle changes such as releasing an addiction to convenience, focusing on cooperative decisions and the good of the group more than on individual decisions and the good of the self, mutual respect, ceasing war and competition that places winning above all else, and other deep changes if we are to avert the difficult effects of climate change. In addition, these changes have an undefined but not indefinite timeline in which to take effect.
However, the opposite is also true. No one of us can change the world alone. None of us is responsible for making other people behave in the ways we can see are needed. No one of us can be devalued for not achieving at the broad level; by ourselves it is not possible, even though we may do much. Each little thing each of us does is valuable. Each little increment we achieve is an attainment. Even if we are making no visible progress towards averting the difficult effects of climate change, or even if we are one of those contributing to the rapid progress of those ominous effects, we cannot be judged – we are still valuable, and our actions still contribute in ways we may not see just now.
I have yet to arrive at the center point of this paradox. Perhaps it lies in faith and hope. Most probably, for each of us it lies in our extent of personal growth. I think it may involve the willingness to continually grow, and to value each stage of our growth. In the later parts of The Celestine Prophecy series by Dan Redfield, the advanced people who have created harmony with nature and each other are dispersed by destructive forces (read it, I will not give away the plot), but come back in the next book to help the protagonists grow and avert global disaster. That may be a good metaphor for us.
No, I don’t think we need to give up or think that we have done enough already. We have not. Neither do I think that we should chastise ourselves for not doing more than we would like to be doing. We need to keep trying, and at the same time, give ourselves room to grow and be in the moment that is. If we keep both ends of the paradox beside each other in our minds, I do believe that eventually we, you and I, will arrive at the center of that paradox, and recognize it when we do.
May we have the courage to continue, and the compassion to love ourselves (and each other) where we are right now.