I grew up in the generation where we were told we could accomplish anything we set our minds to. Of course sooner or later we figured out that life was not that simple, but I guess the positive thinking mentality still sticks with me. I would rather believe that my actions matter than just coast along letting life happen to me.
The book I've been reading lately, Hope's Effect, describes various people all over the world who are changing their destinies and influencing the world around them. The premise is to believe that what exists around us now is not inevitable and it can be changed. We can create what does not exist. We can help create the world we want to live in.
I believe that. I may not be able to create utopia, but I can do something to improve my corner of the world. I can maximize the resources I have around me and look for new ways to do things. I can live in alignment with my values.
Unfortunately I see so many people who believe the solution is outside themselves and they are powerless to change anything. A friend of mine told me how frustrated she was that our town does not recycle. I was confused and started to tell her where the local drop off spots are and what materials they take. She interrupted and explained that she meant curb-side recycling. So, because we didn't have this convenience, she did not recycle at all and she blamed the system. Now, it is a hassle to sort my trash and collect bags at home and take them across town to the drop off and sometimes I chose not to do it. Most of the time, though, I make the effort because I believe in not wasting resources and limiting how much trash goes to landfills and I hope that our town council will see that this is important to the public and they might pursue curb-side. I don't actually mind that my friend did not recycle - that is a personal choice based on values. What bothered me was that she was blaming 'the system' for not making it convenient. She relying on 'them' to solve the problem instead of maximizing her own abilities.
I see the same problem when people say healthy food is too expensive and/or they do not have time to cook at home. See, I can relate to this. I was that person. I actually bought those pre-cooked meats and side-dishes at the store. I used paper plates because I did not have time to wash dishes. I know what it's like to work long hours and come home to take care of children and not have energy to deal with dinner. However, I started learning about the dangers of our highly processed diet. I began to realize that the way I was eating was making me fat and sick. The convenience foods I was buying were solving one problem but creating others. I could complain about how the gov't and the food system were not taking care of us. I could bemoan the cost of organic vegetables and grass-fed meat. Or, I could make as many changes as my circumstances would allow. I started making more home-made dishes. I learned to cook extra and freeze it so I had easy meals to warm up on those busy nights. I looked for alternatives to some of our favorite processed foods. I experimented with vegetable dishes and bought organic when the food budget allowed. I visit both local farmer's markets even though they are small. I talked to the farmers and got leads on local ranchers who raise cows, pigs, and chickens and sell the butchered meat. It wasn't easy, and it surely wasn't convenient, but I changed how my family eats and improved our health. I'm not saying everyone can or even should do what I did. Some can do more and some can do less, but we can all do something.
I'm certainly not perfect, and I do my share of complaining about the systems around me that seem unfair or unreasonable. However, more and more I am choosing not to just accept my plight but to "do what I can with what I have where I am."
Let's all create the world we want to live in.