It is very easy for the issues that we care about to fall to the back of our minds. We start off with good intentions, but life gets in the way and we forget our good intentions. It’s normal. Or perhaps we have a diffuse sense of wanting to do something but we don’t know what.
Something really beautiful happens to our hearts and minds when we make a firm intention to do something that is in the service of care. Making a pledge, we become witness to the beautiful quality of compassion in our own being. By making a pledge we step outside of the normal confines of our usual personal concerns and align ourselves with care for the other, whether that be person, plant, animal or the world at large. And that feels good.
With this ground as our starting point, we notice that the thing we have chosen to do (or not to do) continues to reaffirm our sense of care. This nourishes our heart and mind, and as we continue to uphold our pledge, the freedom from our restrictive self-concern grows ever wider. It really does feel good! And so we can find ourselves feeling more resourced, ready to take a further pledge which strengthens our sense of well-being further, and so it goes on. A widening ripple of care and well-being in our lives and in the world.
In this time of deepening concern about climate change, the actions we take might seem too small to really challenge the problem. We might not see a tangible ‘result’ from our actions. But in addition to the ways that taking an action and making a pledge is deeply beneficial to our sense of well-being, there are other ways to conceive of our role in the climate change issue.
Consider some of the important changes that have come about in recent human history: the abolition of slavery, the end of apartheid, the vote for women. These changes are borne of individual will and a shift in the collective consciousness regarding a particular issue, which in itself comes about through a shift in the individual’s consciousness.
We imagine how we want the world to be, the changes we’d like to see. We turn ourselves to look in the direction of that vision. And then we take a step towards that vision. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but if we let that stop us, the change we would like to see certainly won’t come about. It is in the turning towards the vision, and in the bravery of taking a step, that all the power lies.
Setting aside for a moment the specifics of what a person could do, maybe what the climate change issue really needs is for us to sow the seed of care deeply in our own hearts and minds and water it deeply by upholding the actions which show that care. And this, in a way, is an end in itself.