Last week, we attended a climate change vigil organised by a couple of local people. I was touched by the gathering and was reminded of how much I value community, caring, presence and collective contribution. We were perhaps twenty or thirty people with candles standing on the steps of Town Hall, sharing our thoughts and feelings about climate change.
As I think about it now, I really appreciated that we were not a crowd of hundreds or thousands waving signs, chanting and listening to just a few key speakers. It was an open forum and everyone was invited to speak. I appreciated the sense of intimacy and personal connection, as I listened to what was really alive in people about climate change. I think climate change, as much as war, are very personal.
For some of us, though we may never have seen a polar bear in the wild, or may not live in areas where coastal flooding, hurricanes, typhoons, heatwaves or drought are a direct threat, we still feel the impact. We may feel outraged, despairing, saddened, pained or fearful by the state of our planet. Perhaps we recognise that the health of the planet goes hand in hand with human well-being and survival; or perhaps it is the wildness and beauty of nature that we deeply value; or perhaps it is the preciousness of all life that we want to protect.
In smaller conversations after the vigil, I heard the two main people who had initiated the gathering say something like "Oh, I didn't do much, I just..." I am delighted that one or two people with passion and vision could gather a group of twenty or thirty people, two newspaper reporters - and initiate how many conversations? And although they said that they didn't do "much", I am so grateful that they did something - and that so many people do something in so many different ways to contribute to our collective well-being.
A few days ago, while on Facebook looking through some of the "requests" to support "causes" I'd received, I was amazed to discover that five of them were for five different non-profits, which I didn't know, with peace as their mission. I am noticing more and more small groups and organisations springing up, all dedicated in their own ways to making the world the kind of place, I believe, most of us want to live in - a world that is more peaceful, sustainable, and just. These groups and organisations are started by real people, maybe one or two or three people, like you or me, who want to make a contribution.
On Avaaz, a web movement empowering people across the globe to connect and mobilise towards "the world most people everywhere want", I just read that over 14,731,123 people, and counting (I've updated this number three times while proofreading this post), have signed the petition to support "a bold deal" at the Copenhagen climate summit. My heart swells when I see a number like that. There are MILLIONS of people like me who CARE about our planet and the people on it.
So the next time you feel down about the world and want to change something, please do! Please do something and change something! Please look for other people to do and change things with. I am sure there are people around you who share similar needs and visions, who want to change things too. There are so many of us who want to make a contribution and so many of us who are contributing in ways that are meaningful to us and to those around us. The more of us who are engaged, the more energy, passion, creativity, skills, resilience and strength we bring to our collective efforts. There is such a need for collaboration, participation, community, hope and change. It is a time with many uncertainties and so many opportunities.