In my my last post, I suggested that readers, as a personal experiment, try getting actively involved in our democracy by calling their Congressional representative just to see how it felt.
The results were amazing and I'm not talking numbers of people who made the call.
What I'm talking about is how, pretty much to a person, the act of using their democratic right to let a Congress person know their views made them feel good. And powerful. And capable.
In particular, I suggested that readers call their Congressional representatives to ask them to support a new bill banning the construction of new coal-based power plants unless they have a way of preventing their greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere (by the way, you can still make the call and you can find instructions here).
Here are snippets from a few of the comments (click on the person's name to see their entire comment):
- Mike said: "I did it! I've never done that before. It took about 20 seconds."
- Kafi said: "I did it, too! I have never done this before, either... but it felt good and I will definitely do it again!"
- Christy said: "I've never called a congressperson before! That was fun."
- Katy said: "I called... Even though I don't think [my Congressman John Colburtson] will listen, I know he CAN'T listen if I don't speak up!"
- Julie said: "It... makes me feel good to be a voice. How else will our legislators know what their constituents are hoping for, unless we tell them?"
- Jacob said: "Wow, this was the first time I've ever done anything political besides vote and sign online petitions... but today I decided to just go for it. And I am so glad I did!"
- Stan said: "Kinda fun."
- Liz said: "It feels good to make a difference. It really doesn't take long."
- Debra said: "Do I feel optimistic? No. But I DO feel good having done the right thing myself."
These comments are important to me because they confirm what I've been finding myself.
When I started the No Impact sustainable-living project, part of the reason I did it was because I was so skeptical that the politicians would ever do anything about climate change. I felt that, in the voting booth, whether you pull a red handle or a blue hand, you still pull a big business handle.
So I decided, if I wanted to do something about planetary stewardship, individual action through lifestyle change was the way to go. Of course, the big question was always whether the efforts of little old me could make a difference or not. What I discovered was that, if nothing else, at least I could make a difference to whether I felt I was contributing more to the world's problems or to its solutions.
But slowly, I found myself nudged in the direction of political action, too. And what I found was amazing. That whether my one voice would be heard above the din or not, just the fact of using my voice made me feel less victimized by the troubles of the world. It made me feel, in some small way, that I did have the power to make a difference.
I've heard it said that you don't think yourself into right action but that you act yourself into right thinking. What I'm saying here is that I didn't think I had power and then I acted. I acted first and that was what caused me to begin to feel that I had power.
We all have power, I've realized, and we simply need to use it.
That makes me feel a hell of a lot better as I live in these times. Why I am so grateful to the effort made by readers in phoning their reps and then reporting back to the blog is that they confirm to me what I've begun to feel so strongly:
If I try, if I make an effort, I may not save the world. But there is a good chance, at least, that I'll end up saving myself.
PS You'll find a below a spot I did with the National Resources Defense Council's Deron Lovass on NPR host Brian Lehrer's online video talk show, Brian Lehrer Live. It was about the rising price of gas and its effect on the greening of our transportation choices. Click here to be redirected to the blog to watch the video if you can't watch it in your email or RSS reader.
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.