Someone emailed me the other day and asked me something along the lines of, “how do you keep going forward without getting too depressed about the world and everything that is going on in it?”
First let me say, I don’t think that my “going forward” is so particularly commendable. There are lots of people who have been trying not to harm the planet a lot longer than me. These quiet heroes, some of whom write to me with very helpful advice, do what they do just because the believe it’s right. When I meet and talk to these people, I quite frankly feel ashamed that I didn’t begin looking more closely at my impact on the planet before the age of 43.
But about the despondency over the planet: in my youth, I used to reason that there could be no God because if there was, how could there be so much suffering? Some years ago, I realized that if there is a God—or Hope or Truth or Oneness or Mystery or Goodness or whatever—then maybe the God resided in the feelings of compassion and grief over the suffering. In other words, if there was something Essential within us, maybe it was that Essence that lamented and asked, “how could there be so much suffering?”
Now, I’m not saying anyone should or shouldn’t believe in God or anything along those lines at all. I’m just talking about noticing that as well as suffering the human psyche contains a lot of concern about suffering. I’ve said before and I believe that compassion can be as powerful a force in human nature as greed when we choose to let it.
What buoys me is the fact that so many altruistic people are choosing to let it. Of course, I could do more, and maybe we all could. But I have hope. And when you embark on a project like No Impact Man and meet so many wonderful people who work and have always worked to help the world, you only get more hope. And more inspiration.
Some say it’s too late. Who knows? But I love that there are so many who help because it is the right thing to do, even if it is not the most efficient or even the most productive. They don’t care whether it is too late or not. They try. That’s what keeps me going forward.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.