There’s a lot of bad-ness on my TV right now. It’s one of the big reasons I don’t turn it on much. Before I had children, I could watch footage of disasters and shrug it off. But the moment that I pushed my first baby out all of that changed. Now that I’m a parent I have a greater stake in the world, and I feel a sort of kinship with other parents. If I spend too much time thinking about the reality that somewhere, right now, babies are dying and their parents are mourning … well, I wouldn’t get any sleep at all.
And don’t even get me started about fictional programs that use dying children in their storylines. Not cool.
It isn’t only political upheaval and natural disasters that can leave me crying into my pillow. Yesterday I got an email in my inbox letting me know that it was David Suzuki‘s birthday, and asking me to sign the Declaration of Interdependence. I clicked over, and I saw this video:
It’s not particularly depressing, but it underscores a very hard truth, and that is that we cannot continue to pillage our natural environment. The earth has finite resources, and when we take them all for ourselves, without regard for others, we are stealing from our children. Pollution and climate change and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are not the legacy I want to leave. Just as I don’t want to hear about children dying, I don’t want to contemplate what the world will look like if we don’t clean up our act.
I want my children, and everyone’s children, to have a bright future. Don’t we all?
It’s easy to feel despondent in the face of big problems. After all, I am just one person, and I certainly don’t hold all of the solutions. But being despondent doesn’t hold any answers, either. In fact, it holds additional dangers. When we don’t feel that we can make a difference, we lose our incentive to act. The problems our world faces may be unimaginably huge. But if we all take little steps, slowly increasing our actions, we’re far better off than if we trash the joint because we decide we might as well enjoy ourselves while everything falls apart around us.
And so I choose hope. Deliberately, methodically, and sometimes with great effort. I seek out things that remind me of the good-ness in the world. I consider what actions I can take to make things better, and I take them.
A little bit of good-ness in a sunflower from my garden
I have to believe that I can do some good in the world. I have to. My mental health hinges on the idea that I matter, if only in some small way. I cling to that idea, and I believe in its truth. I matter. And so do you. We all do. We can choose how we act. Those choices make a difference, good or bad, in the world around us. They can tear down, or build up. They can inspire others to change, or fill them with despair. It’s in our hands, and we can choose.
I have chosen. I have chosen to avoid the news when I know that it’s going to leave me feeling discouraged. I have chosen to believe that I can make a difference. And I have chosen to make my impact as positive as I can.
What about you? How do you deal with discouragement in the face of big problems? And what do you do to find hope in the face of despair? I’d love to hear.
This post was inspired by the Green Moms Carnival, which is all about hope and despair this month. Diane over at Big Green Purse is hosting the carnival, so stop by her blog and read Is your environmental “glass” half empty, or half full? for more thought-provoking posts.