What if I told you that the recent events are just fear tactics? What if you had the power to change what was going on?
We all have the power to spark change, even if we are on the very bottom of the transnational hierarchy. Individuals still hold great power. By not succumbing to fear and lies it is easy to make simple changes that have a lasting effect, and changes the inter-workings of the transnational sphere.
Sound far-fetched? Well it’s not! Think about it. What if we just stopped participating? What if we stopped buying? What would happen to the world? It would change. Yes, it would CHANGE. Our civilization is not the same as it was before, and it’s because of our needs and desires that is has been fashioned in the way we realize it today. All it takes is one small interaction; one stance; one refusal to participate to send a wave of intention to the top. The power is always in the market and networks of individuals. In groups of individuals we know this is much more powerful.
How to stop climate change individually:
If you are worried about the recent events concerning climate change, there are many ways to combat this. Animal agriculture, for example, is measured in many studies accounting for over 30-50% of greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the gases released by the animals, the transportation of products nationally and internationally, as well as transportation of their food sources. Animal agriculture also uses much more water than fruit and vegetable farming. If you consume animal products from conventional industrial animal farms, consider switching to locally raised animals near your home to reduce your carbon footprint.
Food products and anything else we use also uses A LOT of greenhouse gases to be transported to us. Buy local and eat seasonally. For example, many stores now tell you where your food has come from. Choose the produce that was produced closest to you. Instead of buying vegetables from Mexico, I choose to buy from a United States source. When I get a chance, I also like to go to Farmer’s markets and sometimes the Amish transport their produce during the summer to different places. This of course, always depends on where you live. If you live close to Mexico, you might be better off purchasing produce there than from California. Do the best you can!
Transportation is another factor. We have unfortunately been born into a world of convenience and use our cars even if it’s only a 15-minute walk. I know I could do better about this myself as well. Reduce the demand for fossil fuels by biking, walking, and carpooling. Working together, forming new every day practices, and creating a new transnational web is the way to combat climate change.
How to reduce religious extremism individually and foster peace:
If you are also concerned about the looming marketplace of religious extremism, there are also ways to combat that. As a student and scholar of conflict management and transformation, as well as an advocate of understanding the different backgrounds of the individuals around us, the easiest way to reduce extremism is to not succumb to the process of “othering.” The process of othering separates and discriminates against those who do not fit the norms of your worldviews. We do this in our daily lives constantly.
Standing in line at Starbucks, the woman in front of you is taking forever to order and you impatiently can’t understand why. Later, while waiting for your own drink, you see the woman is carrying a walking stick for the blind. It was her first time at Starbucks and the new barista at the front register didn’t know there was a braille menu available (YES! Starbucks has a braille menu). Another time while waiting to pick up your friend at the airport, you notice a “Muslim-looking” man impatiently, waiting and pacing near you. With only the media to frame your reference about a person of a different skin color than you, all you can think of is the worst. Then you see three small children run towards him gleefully while his wife, despite being modestly covered from head to toe, has a sparkle in her eyes as she, too, runs towards his open arms and smile.
Honestly, I too, go through my day constantly fighting off thoughts about others, even though I know nothing about them. But it’s not your fault if you have these thoughts; we were made this way. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Be more patient; give more smiles; ask more questions to gain an understanding of others’ lives. Don’t use your worldview to comprehend them; comprehend their worldview to inform yours.
How to change the government and the state individually:
The state is based on institutions, and these institutions are moderated by the government (check out my previous post about the state to learn more about this). To change how institutions work, we need to change how we interact with them and how they are defined. This is done by changing our relationships with those around us, as well as changing how we understand the world. Institutions were made to separate non-cooperative people from the larger cooperative group, but sometimes those who wish to cooperate and be peaceful are edged into a non-cooperative group, just because we don’t understand them. By making small changes in our relationships with those around us, it becomes easier to morph the institutions to serve us as a whole cooperative group. Get to know your neighbors; volunteer at a local religious organization; take a foreign language class. Do whatever you can to learn about everyone around you. This not only builds trust between two people, but also forms a group bond.
With these new relationships, we also need to be sure to protect those who are disadvantaged by the current institutions. Over time they will transform through altering our everyday habits and how we interact with the state; but if they are not aligned with how the group currently cooperates, this is where we stand up and reject the current workings of the system.
You are standing behind the blind woman in the Starbucks line, impatient, but realize she is here for the first time and doesn’t know what is on the menu. Meanwhile behind you, another person sighs heavily and says, “Gosh this is taking forever. Blind people, right?” You could either, laugh along and re-affirm the bias towards people with disabilities, or you could be inclusive. Step-up and offer to help the woman find something on the menu while making a new friend in the process. Be the example, and be the change.
You are getting off the plane, exhausted, and drained from the 8 hour flight. Meanwhile, a woman and her four children are gathering their belongings when a man says to them, “You terrorists should go back to where you came from.” You could ignore this, and re-affirm the bias towards those of a different religion, or you could direct the woman’s attention towards you. Ask her how she felt about the flight; make silly faces with her children to make them laugh; and walk together off the plane while figuring out the both of you are neighbors. Hold the children’s hands and walk together while promising them they can swim in your pool during the summer. Watch the children light up when they see their father and go shake hands with him as well. Be the example, and be the change.
So what now?
In light of the current situation in the United States, many of us are perplexed at what to do; many of us might be relieved. Just let me ask one simple question: would you rather live in peace and at peace with yourself? Do you wish more violence and discrimination upon our posterity? If you want to join me in gradually changing our future generations, it can be as simple as changing our everyday habits. Be aware of where your purchases come from; be perceptive of people around you; and most of all, be kind. Be kind with your words and your actions. Vote with your dollar and with whom you take as a friend. Divert the market to divert the fear tactics.
Featured photo courtesy of The Madinah Project in Akron, OH.