Thursday, 13 September 2012

Building An Army for Change

The other day, as I arrived back home from a cycle ride (actually more of a cycle slog), I saw, lying in the middle of the back alley, a broken and discarded, plastic margarine tub.  I stopped and I picked it up.  I leave my bike in the backyard and I have to walk the short distance back around the top of the block, so that I can let myself in the front door.  During that walk of one minute, I picked up a plastic drinks bottle and a discarded news sheet.  I took my collection in doors with me and placed it in to our recycling bin, ready for collection the following day.  I did not question my actions, they came to me as obviously as taking the next breath.  So, why did I pick these things up?

I do not consider myself a do-gooder, a goody two shoes (note 1) or anything else of that nature. I have acted in this way for many years.  I do it simply because I can.

Recently, I walked in the Christoffel National Park of Curacao and during a hike to and from the summit of the St Christoffelberg mountain, I picked up 28 empty plastic drinks bottles, that had been discarded along the trail.  I also picked up 15 or more pieces of wrapper or labelling from food and bottles.  I put all of these into my backpack, which I emptied into the waste bins at the end of the hike. 

Whenever, I used to walk along the beaches in Costa Rica and I would do the same thing.  I've done it England, New Zealand, Canada, the States, Asia, Europe, Africa, in fact pretty much everywhere I've ever been.  I pick up litter and I place it into the rubbish bins whenever I can.

I pick up litter and clear fishing lines from the coral reefs and dive sites during my dives.  Whether I am diving for work, or diving for pleasure, it makes no difference.  I take my dive knife and I cut away fishing lines, lead weights and hooks, risking getting my thumb or hand hooked in the process.  Sometimes, it is not pretty and I find myself beginning to get tangled and caught up in the many feet of line, but I manage it.  I return from a dive and I empty out my BCD (note 2) pockets - polystyrene drinks cartons, aluminium cans, fishing line, wrappers.

I think I do it because I want to show others that this is normal behaviour.  It should be considered normal behaviour for any human to clean up the environment in which they inhabit.  Some litter is not put there by a person out of neglect and stupidity.  Bins overflow, the wind blows and things inadvertently fall out or drop down.  It is no body's fault.  But we treat everything the same.

I want people to know that I care.  I want people to look at me and see a person who takes pride in this planet.  I almost wrote 'this planet of ours' but that is incorrect thinking.  It is not our planet.  It never has been and never will be.  We share this planet with all other life and for that miracle, we must surely owe it a debt of gratitude.  I want people to see a person who is not afraid to be different.  Someone who is not afraid to act when they see something wrong.  I want to know that when I reach the end of my time here, that I did my part to contribute to a cleaner better world. 

Don't we try to teach our children the morals of life?  Not to steal, not to kill, not to injure, not to cheat, to respect their elders, to respect property, not to drink and drive, not to take drugs.  And all the many other things that our cultures have determined are moral behaviours within society.  Why do we not ingrain in the minds of our children to respect the planet and to respect life?  To never do anything knowingly or willingly that can be considered harmful to the environment. 

Why do we not act when we see someone drops litter from their car, or as they walk down the street?  Isn't it true that often we say to ourselves, "Well, I didn't put it there", or, "It's not my job to pick it up"?  I admit that I have done this.  But I do not do it anymore.  It is my duty as a citizen of the planet to do something about it.  We all try to keep our homes, yards and gardens clean and tidy.  Why don't we extend this to our local environments?

The problem that we find ourselves in is that all societies are now heading in the same direction - towards a truly capitalistic way that promotes singleness.  Capitalism's ideology is all about the individual.  How can I improve myself?  How can I make more money?  What can I get?  It fails to address the fact that we live in communities, that we inhabit shared spaces - not just with other humans, but with all other life, and that people have never been individualists.  We are being disengaged from our local communities.   

And so we need to fight.  We need to fight against what we are told.  We need to fight for what we believe.  To fight for what we want to manifest in this world.  We need to form an army for change.  An army that does things not because of the financial rewards, but an army that marches to the beat and to the rhythm of life. 

I guess all I am trying to say here is that we can all do small things that collectively will make a huge difference.  Together, we can change the way people see and do things.  Together we can make it normal and expected behaviour to clean up our environment.  Together we can make a difference.  Together, we can build an army for change.

I simply consider myself as a man of the planet.  I am made from the planet.  I am of the Earth and the Earth is of me.  I will return at the end to whence I came because all things are one. 

Moses was given ten commandments on top of Mount Sinai.  I propose an eleventh commandment:-

Protect the planet, protect the environment and protect life. Amen. 

1: Goody Two Shoes: 
2: BCD - Buoyancy Control Device.  A device that allows you to control your buoyancy in water by inflating (or deflating) an internal air bladder, with air from a compressed air scuba cylinder.

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