"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Let’s all do one extra compassionate act today.

I have written over the last week of the dangers of remoteness – not linking our behaviour with the effects of our actions. This remoteness is seen at a global and human level, when we do not always associate the extreme manifestations of climate change happening in other parts of the world with our own excessive and consumer lifestyles.
10% of the world’s population is consuming 50% of its resources. 20% of the world’s population has no safe water supply. Observing our speed limits can save a liter of fuel or more per 100 miles. Are we going to slow down, stop using that pressure hose, cut our consumption?

The IPCC said in 2007 ‘that by 2050 up to 2 billion people worldwide could be facing major water shortages. The U.S. used more than 148 trillion gallons of water in 2000, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That includes residential, commercial, agriculture, manufacturing and every other use — almost 500,000 gallons per person.’ Serious water shortages in the US are predicted sooner than 2050, caused by ‘rising temperatures and evaporation rates, lack of rain, urban sprawl, waste and overuse.’
We usually take our potable water supply totally for granted, because we have not experienced for ourselves and cannot begin to imagine having to walk miles each day to carry back pitchers of water that is possibly dirty and harmful to drink. The chronic water shortages that hit parts of the South of England in the summer drought of 2006 provoked a positive response from customers to the requests to save water. This was almost certainly because the threat of water standpipes in the roads was seen as a real possibility that would affect us all directly and make our lives quite difficult.

The same principles could equally apply to any of the other resources that we hold dear to us or take totally for granted, such as food, fuel, power. I feel sure that we would be far more interested in being frugal with such commodities if we could only fully comprehend the real risk of us losing them by our inappropriate actions.
In the UK shock tactics have been used to change public opinion. Celebrity chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver have both used powerful documentaries on prime time TV to drive home the message about unacceptable and cruel farming practices.
Do we need celebrities to make television programs or videos with shock tactics about every aspect of our lives before we will act responsibly as individuals? I hope not! Change needs to come from a change of heart, a sense of love and compassion and empathy, rather than by the use of shock tactics.

Someone said to me yesterday: “we cannot do anything at all about atrocities happening in other parts of the world except pray.” I was horrified! At the very least we can find out more about the many wonderful charities and other organizations that are working tirelessly in so many places to improve the lot of humankind, to relieve hunger and suffering and to provide education and support wherever needed. So many of us are very privileged. So many of us don’t really have to worry about where our next meal will come from, and we can take for granted our relative safety in our own secure homes and neighbourhoods. We may not be able to become directly involved with the work of aid agencies etc., but we can at least support them financially as well as in our prayers.

Let’s all do one extra compassionate act today.

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