As I’m sure we have all felt at one point, whether that be while picking up trash in an ocean of debris, recycling a handful of empty pop cans facing a mountain of thousands, or helping one person and thinking “there are millions suffering right now”…. we feel small, and that maybe no matter what we do the world is just too big to change. In fact, it’s easy to feel this way. And why shouldn’t you? You are just one person.
But then again… The greatest things to have ever happened to the human race have only ever been started by a single person. Of course we have the Einstein’s, Mother Theresa’s, MLK’s, Buddha’s, and Gates’ and many other great people that HAVE changed the world, but they’re not who I think of when I think of saving the planet…
I think about this guy, planting a tree while thousands of hectares of Amazon Rainforest are cut down daily. But he plants this little sapling, regardless.
I approach this issue in two ways: the first, economically; the second, philosophically.
Economists love to preach the power of one. The power of the consumer to, as a collective whole, change communities, industries, countries, or perhaps even the entire world. They reduce this act, primarily, to preference. What do you want? Well, that will, ultimately, be reflected by how you construct your environment (i.e. how you spend your money – as your values drive your spending).
For example, if (enough) individuals care enough to NOT purchase Nike shoes — having chosen not to support sweat shops in developing countries — then that industry would dissolve and cease to exist, as the consumer has valued something else – something greater; An evolution of values, we can hope.
Economists believe in the power of one.
The second reason pulls from an ethical grounding. A view shared by many of the worlds dominant religions, in fact. And that is the message of responsible stewardship. Ready for this deep, philosophical truth?
You should act because you can.
Indeed, with great power comes great responsibility; a responsibility to act as a (kind) steward of the land, to its people, and to its creatures. (Forget the “but we kill animals to eat” argument, for that’s not irresponsible, nor what we should focus on, necessarily. Research industrial meat production as performed today. Irresponsible to say the least.)
I’m also reminded of the starfish story…
So, you can make a difference, and if you feel like you can’t, try anyway. **Small change for big change, right? Whether it be choosing not to buy the newest pair of Nike shoes or throwing that starfish back into the ocean, you can do something. And, it’s critical you realize this. It’s important that everyone realizes this, for as a collective whole, as a team, we can change not just the life of a single starfish, but of billions of starfish.
(Now insert human for starfish)
** A couple years ago a nonprofit organization called Outreach International forged a small campaign called “Small Change for Big Change” – in which they delivered the idea of individual power in a unique way – asking for cents: literally dimes, pennies, and quarters, to be donated to their company to help communities across the world, hence SMALL CHANGE for big change. I thought it was a great little addition.
Also, If you’re interested in researching about industrial meat production, here are some links:
- Consequences of Global Meat Production.
- 4 Reasons Why We Need to Rethink Industrial Meat Production.
- General Effects of IMP
And, honestly, you should do independent research. Get to the bottom of it and find out what’s important to you. After all, your values drive your spending…