In December 2015 there was the UN climate summit in Paris, COP 21. The world community agreed on a set of guidelines to reduce co2 emissions in an attempt to prevent the accelerated warming of the global climate. There was great jubilation when the world leaders actually came to an agreement, compared to the depressing result of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2010.
The words were sweet and the intentions good, but has anything changed since then? It’s hard to say as a simple individual in a hyper complex modern media reality, but my intuitive feeling is that nothing much will change in the upper echelons of the capitalist power pyramid. It is business as usual, and could be until the system is stretched to its own self-destruction. If we want to see a change towards a more sustainable world, we must be that change. We as individuals must research how our life choices can become sustainable, act accordingly and spread the knowledge. It is in this field of knowledge dissemination that we must seize all means possible in the spirit of activism.
It is as if the house of human civilisation is on fire and a few of the inhabitants are trying to yell to the others that the house is burning. The other people hear it but would rather ignore it since it seems like a hassle to put it out, and would rather just continue what they are doing. If we are aware that the world is burning we must try to make our fellow human beings aware of this and what they can do to put out the fire.
What we can do is quite simple and straightforward. I have written about this in detail in my attempt at a Holistic Life Manual for Sustainable Living, so for details please refer to that elsewhere on this site. The basic concepts are: consume less (especially oil and plastic!), eat less meat, reuse, recycle, bicycle, grow your own food. All are very simple, straightforward practical steps that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle for the individual and human civilisation at large.
The big challenge comes in the changing our mindset and the values of society in general. As a student of the Buddha dharma I have understood that the best we can do is change our own egocentric mindset towards a more altruistic one. This can take time and requires diligent studies of Buddhist philosophy and practices, which can potentially take up ones whole life and many lifetimes to come. In the grand scale of the universe with the potential of rebirth on other planets and in other dimensions then it is probably the most worthwhile. But if one is small-mindedly attached to this little insignificant planet there can be an urgent feeling of wishing to do something to stop the whole scale destruction of the environment that is taking place.
Human beings have developed to be at the top of the pecking order of beings on the planet. Thus everything we do is having a very drastic effect on the environment. In something like only 50 years the human race has manifested itself as a serious threat to the survival of other species on the planet and the ecological balance in general. What can we do to change this? We must change our minds. That is where it all starts. Yet I also feel that the urgency of the situation demands that we really try to make our fellow human beings aware of the ongoing disaster, out of a spirit of love and altruism and not out of arrogance.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche in the fall of 2015 said that to realise the ultimate truth we must have a healthy relative truth. It will be hard for people to practice the dharma if they are living in an environmental crisis situation in the future. Today most people are on social media and in the media in the general we are constantly being bombarded with commercials. The message of these commercials is mainly that we should consume more. We are being led to believe that it will take us closer to an ideal feeling the commercials are promising.
My proposition is that we take back the social media with commercials of a positive and sustainable nature promoting less consumption rather than more. Home made, fun mock commercials made by the consumers for the consumers on the joy of consuming less, recycling, vegan life style, meditation, yoga etc. This could include lifestyle programs like healthy organic cooking classes, recycling manuals, and lots of fun videos where we promote these ideas. I also envision that popular culture such as movies, music and literature will be used as vessels promoting sustainable ideas and even dharma. I would love to see more direct Buddhist influence in these fields. So please Buddhists get creative! The example of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as a movie director could be an inspiration that studying and practicing dharma is not a contradiction to developing our creative potential. Of course we are not as learned and realised as this great master, but I feel the world is crying out for the soothing nectar of the Buddha dharma, so lets not be stingy if we have a little knowledge and appreciation for this crown jewel of human knowledge and potential, that I believe is a gateway to a sustainable and healthy human civilisation.
As a Buddhist I feel we should be wary of the self-promoting narcissist elements of social media, but if we feel a strong responsibility for the environment, I believe it is on the social media platforms that we can really try to influence our fellow beings to take more care of our beautiful and fragile planet. If so we must therefore be willing to sacrifice our precious anonymity for a greater good. We should make the whole fight for a sustainable earth fun, smart and aesthetically beautiful. Just like this awesome and beautiful communal blog, levekunst.com
Though the internet is a prime battlefield for disseminating knowledge for a sustainable future, we must not forget to be real time and physical in our communities. Organising events and endeavours where we actively get together socially to share ideas and create actual examples of sustainable living. Communal gardening could be a prime example of this. So let’s get our hands green and dirty brothers and sisters!Featured image by Visionary Homefarm, with a creative and aesthetic solution.
Share this Post