I've never been one who is afraid to take a stand or make my voice heard when I feel there is an issue worth fighting. But there are so many issues today it's hard to pick one to really focus my energy towards. I mean, just about everything we touch now a days has (or could have) very good causes linked to it. Clothing - Pollution, Slave/Sweat Shop Labor, Over Farming/Foresting, Clean Air, Clean Water, Animal Rights... Food - Soil Erosion, Immigration, Over Farming, Animal Rights, GMOs, Pesticides, Fungicides, Artificial Colors and Flavors and Preservatives... TV, Radio & Internet - Human Rights, Racism, Sexism, Education... You can't start your car, turn on your lights, run your water, flush your toilet, shop for groceries or wash your face without encountering everything from air, water and soil pollutants to toxic chemicals to animal abuse, to slave labor, to sexism and everything in between... And sure, we all try. We all own cloth bags, but do we remember to take them every time we shop? We all know it's wrong to pay a woman less for the same job, but do we question how much the female manager at the grocery store makes? And sure we look at the labels on our food, but do we know which of those USDA Organic products are made by companies that donate MILLIONS of dollars in support of GMOs? And it seems like every time we find a store or company that we feel we can trust, it turns out they are using slave labor in India or Guam or something...
I try to do everything I can. I make sure the products I make are good quality, and I work hard to ensure that our food, cosmetics and other household products are as toxin free as possible. I try not to own or use to much plastic. And I buy second hand whenever possible. I donate all our old stuff. And I teach my children to love others. But I always feel like I'm doing doing enough, and worse, I feel like I'm doing it alone.
Two days ago I signed a petition on Change.org that I believe is for a good cause - healthy foods in schools. The petition deadline was nearly up, they had a goal of 1000 signatures, they got 20, including mine. WHY wasn't a minimum of one signature per household in that district? Does it really take so long to sign a petition? But they got 20. So either they only have 19 parents in that district, or most don't care enough about what their kids are eating (or don't understand how poor the food is) to take the 35 seconds it would take to type in their name on this petition and fight for better health for their own children. And the local districts aren't any different. Neither are the other causes out there.
I fear what my grandchildren will say. I fear what they will think of me and our entire generation. It's one thing to look back on my grandparents generation and see them either standing on one side or the other of issues like civil & women's rights. But in their time there were only a few real issues to worry about - or at least a few major issues. Today, there are a myriad of issues and it's impossible to fight them all. What's worse is it seems like the majority of people today just don't care - they don't even care enough to find out what most of the issues are, let alone enough to take a side or a stand.
What are we leaving for the future? Is our legacy going to be one of chaotic arguing or of change? I suppose only time will tell. People tell me - "IF you want to see change, get out and work for it." And that's all well and good when you have just ONE issue to fix. But what about when you feel like you have 1000 worthy issues breathing down your neck every day? Do you just pick one or two to focus on and hope the others work themselves out? Or do you constantly allow yourself to give small pieces to each and every worthy cause you find - but never allow yourself to focus to much one one because the others are worthy too? Is there a right answer? I don't know.
I know there are causes out there which are interconnected. And it's possible that focusing on the "umbrella cause" will allow the others to work themselves out. For example, if we focus on Gender Equality then things like fair pay for women and abortion will work themselves out. Focus on animal rights and you're going to see issues like factory farming and animal testing will be worked out. And I even understand that more than a few issues are going to overlap one another. If we focus on true healthcare, things like vaccines, GMOs, and breastfeeding will all be enveloped. But it's difficult to focus on the "Big Picture" when all the little causes are what make that bigger picture up.
And there are so many even smaller - individual - causes which come calling even while you're trying to focus on the "big pictures." Sure, if we fix the healthcare situation in this country (meaning we start focusing on health rather than medicine) future generations will see less illness and longer lives. But what about the kids with cancer RIGHT NOW! What about the growing numbers of individuals with conditions like ALS, MS, Fibromyalgia, or Lupus? What about them? Do we not focus on helping them pay for medical bills or getting good care today because we need to put energy towards tomorrow?
I wish I had all the answers. Unfortunately though, my grandparent's generation didn't know what was coming. They couldn't see the future any better than me. And they didn't fully understand what all their choices would mean for us, or our children, or their children... They lived lives which were centered around their needs and their world. They DID make great changes and they DID do wonderful things. Without the work they did for Women's Rights I wouldn't be sitting here writing they way I do. Without their work for Civil Rights I wouldn't live across the street from a mix race family. Without their work for Unions (who created the 40hr work week) my husband would NEVER be home. Without their exploration and encouragement of new ways of thinking spiritually, and more over their work to give "alternative religions" equal footing legally, I wouldn't be able to hold my head high as a modern day Pagan and Witch. They did great things! They made changes which have allowed me to have a good life. Unfortunately though they also made changes which have made the world we have today into a toxic place to be. Factory farming, Baby Formula, Vaccines, Food grade dyes... It all came out of the "progress" made during their era.
I think for the most part, they believed they were doing what was good. They wanted to make their - and our - lives simpler. Give us more time to time to do what's important. But instead we became a culture with even less. Less time, less health, less freedom in many ways. We became a culture run on fear spewed forth from government run organizations and bureaucrats. I know, to some degree we already were all that, long before our grandparents were born. I think though it has gotten so much worse since then. I've seen it get worse just since I've been an adult. Since 9/11 I've seen fear pumped in to our society to make new freedom limiting laws at least a few times a year... And anyone who's paid attention will say the same thing.
So I think I got it... I think I know what we need... We need to figure out the whole time-space continuum thing and go back and fix the world... NO? Not going to happen? Okay, then here's what I propose we do... We start being decent human beings! We stop arguing over the little things and start coming together to fix the big ones... Lets face it, whether or not someone has an abortion doesn't effect you - but whether or not that same woman has the right to choose her own healthcare does, because her rights are your rights... whether or not someone else is discriminated because of their gender, their race, their religion or their sexuality really doesn't change how you sleep at night - but whether or not they have the right to equality with every other citizen in spite of their differences does, because their rights are your rights... whether or not another parent chooses to medicate their child doesn't affect your child's health one way or another - but whether or not those medicines are created with toxic ingredients or whether or not they are forced into administering them does, because if it's done to them, it can be done to you..
We ARE our brother's keeper. Not just for our brother, but for ourselves, for our children... More than that though, we are our brother's keeper because we are someone's brother. Some people say our society has gotten the way it is because we are selfish - "people don't care about anything but themselves now a days." But I don't think it's selfishness, I don't even think it's a lack of empathy. Instead, I believe we've lost the feeling that we can change things. We've gotten so caught up on little things that we feel like we can't change the big things. Worse yet, we feel like we are putting everything we have in to just staying afloat that we don't feel we have anything left to put out. I know that's exactly how I tend to feel.
I have three children. I have a home. I now have a small business. I have a husband. And I put nearly all my energy in to making sure my children, home, husband and business are healthy and cared for - sometimes there doesn't even seem to be enough energy left to ensure that I am healthy and cared for. How could I possibly find more energy to save the world too?
But here's the thing. I AM SELFISH! I want my children not just to have good health, but have the best health. I want my husband to have the ability to get a good paying job. I want to have the ability to return to school, get my PhD and fulfill all my dreams. I want my small business to become a big business. I want to have something to leave to my children when I die. And I believe I can have all those things! So even when I am feeling overrun and out of energy, I am going to fight for change! I have to - I'm to selfish not to! I want what I want and I want the best! I'm worth it! My husband is worth it! More than that, my children are worth it! Now, I just need other people to realize they are worth it too!
You see, all the changes that need made that's the ONE that is most important. We need to make people understand that they are worth it! They deserve to live in a world where they can be sure the air, the water and the food aren't going to kill them. Where the government isn't going to just come in and take what they want because they want it. Where the "medical system" isn't out to make customers, but to create good strong naturally healthy people. Where peace exists in homes and communities. Where no one has to worry about what will happen if their daughter drives through the city at night. Until people realize they are WORTHY of this world. And until people are SELFISH enough to fight for it. It's not going to happen...
SO I say get Selfish America! Realize that you are worth the best, you deserve the best, and start fighting for it - together! Stop allowing the government to feed you lies so they can take your freedom. Get up, and learn for yourself what is best - and why - then fight for it! IF you don't, if WE don't. We are not just giving up our own lives, but the lives of our children...