All of this vision solidified over dinner with relative strangers last night — all of whom are no longer strangers to me.
And through the thread of the conversations was the kernel of that phrase "think globally, act locally." And in acting locally we were discussing social responsibility — the kind that is impossible to legislate without financial incentive. Think recycling. Think environmentalism. Thing preserving a planet so that our grand children are not living in a world where they're witnessing the die-off of species, including our own. (Some prognosticators theorize current global warming trends will lead to a 50% reduction of the global human population by 2080.
We know companies on Wall Street are not going to stem this tide until it makes fiscal sense for the next fiscal quarter. So how do we make sure that our communities start reducing consumption of goods, which leads to the reduction of fossil fuels needed for the transport and production of those goods, which leads to a reduction of the waste from consuming those goods, which leads to a changed mindset where we consume only what is truly necessary.
A friend of mine had written a book that quantified the true cost of our consumer society, where, and this is a loose interpretation, he illustrated how the production of a pound of consumer goods in our society produced close to 10 pounds of effluent — CO2 emissions, refuse, and other waste. (William Shutkin, "The Land That Cound Be," 2000)
Think about that. And do you really think that intrinsic cost is funnelled to the consumer? Of course not. With the bulk of natural resources being stripped from developing nations, environmental guidelines and concerns are always trumped by the greenback.
That's OK. That's capitalism. That mechanism has lead us to the life of luxury that we in the West currently lead. So how do we work within the confined of capitalism and push environmental strategies into the consciousness of corporations? One man at last night's dinner made a simple statement, "family."
And though it seems too simplistic I think he's right. And when he's saying family he's not defining a politics of family values through the religious right kind of family. He's just saying "family." Define that in whatever form you will, but, damn it, define it, and make it important. And not just the nuclear family, but your extended family. Care about all of them.
With that ethos, then your web of influence instantly spreads.
Can it create conflict? Absolutely. Just because someone is part of your family does not mean you are going to agree with him or her about everything, or anything, but just because you don't agree on anything is no reason not to care about that person. Compassion and caring for someone's well being are irrespective of ideology.
And when everyone around you sees how you treat your family, then you can lead your community through example. Then the sphere of influence really starts to grow.
Let's grow that sphere.