It is spring, and a young woman’s thoughts turn to philosophical inquiry. Of late, she’s turned her baleful eye (as her significant other has so lovingly phrased it) towards planet Earth.
After The Secret History of Happiness which pushed me towards veganism (going swimmingly by the way), I started Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, another light read. It is a collection of essays by world thinkers from Barack Obama to the Pope to Desmond Tutu to Barbara Kingsolver to Wendell Berry with more scientists, philosophers, and writers mixed in. The book addresses the question “do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?” Spoiler alert: for a variety of reasons (the children/the future, the rest of life on Earth, the intrinsic value of the Earth itself, not to mention justice and compassion, as well as our own survival) the answer is a resounding yes.
To affect climate change requires political action. It requires that governments act, that corporations change, that we come together in a way human beings never have before. That’s huge. That’s overwhelming. And it also requires that I act, that I change, that I see interconnectedness more fully than I ever have before. And that feels equally huge, and also empowering. I’ve been thinking about big life choices: how I eat, where we live, how Scott and I raise a family (if we choose to raise a family), and I’ve been thinking about small choices, things I can do on a daily basis. I can ride my bike to work. I can skip plastic bags in the grocery store even for things like beans and flour. I can stop purchasing products that come individually wrapped. I can turn off the damn lights. I can vote. I can campaign.
On a global scale, I don’t know that those acts will matter. Riding my bike to work is not even a drop in the bucket against what’s happening. But, it is one step towards living my short life in accordance with my values. There are many more steps to come, and there have been and will be stumbles. If I can look back at the end of a long day, which is all we really have anyway, and say I did my best, then that will be good enough.