“A Persistent Drip” – 4 years ago

From 4 years ago. How time flies, and mountains remain. Zen wisdom is difficult:

I’ve been in a philosophical mood lately; probably because of the approaching life events, and other big tides, but my trains of thought seem to be manifesting themselves in grand ways.

What I have been working on in those passing moments is the idea of water dripping on stone. It has come up often here, and its a pretty obvious statement that water is the single most powerful element on earth. It’s our life giver. It is the mountain killer. It is the bearer of news, and conveyor of knowledge. According to zen wisdom, if you want to move mountains, you give it some water, and a little time.

I have this metaphorical image stuck in my head of a drop of water hitting a stone, and over time the stone melts away. Its a strong image, one that can focus me in an unusual way. It is a direct symbol for changing ones existence. If I am to change anything, I cannot expect it to do so in my favor, all at once. It takes an action at a time to move my course in life. We try to go around, or turn the other way, but there are times when we must face the mountains before us, and work to diminish them a drop at a time.

I have been extending the metaphor to the state of affairs of humanity, in a way that can provide me, and maybe someone out there, some guidance. We face some big boulders in our path. We all face them together, and they are all linked, because we are all linked. The environment and its degradation is directly tied to our activities, and our invented economies. Our health is tied to the environment, and the products we consume. We live on our collective culture of extracting resources, so how do we become sustainable? How do we beat the beast of shortsightedness, and transient rationale? We see it on the roads when people dart in, and out, burning our spirits, and our fuels, for what? to gain a few seconds and a few extra yards? We see it in the huge footprints we cast, and the competitive and wasteful way in which we live. So how can we expect our whole society to change if our fellow humans can not go through a day without adding to the problems we face. We are all responsible all the way up and down the line. But where do we have he ability to change it?

The power of a drop.

There is no one thing we can do, or even a list of things. It takes drop after drop after drop, until there is a torrent of motion against our mountainous problems.

1. We need political drops: I vote in every election. Obvious. But I try to add some voter power in between too. I am on emailing lists of a few groups that do the political, and legal fighting we need. I belong to the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense, One, and MoveOn, and have participated in petitions by River Watch, the Nature Conservancy, The Earth Day Network and a whole host of others. I also get emails, and have responded to the major Democratic presidential candidates, and party. I add my drop to each on those campaigns that I think will do the most good. Does it do a lot of good? Not a lot, but when I read about a Bush appointee usurping the law or acting as if the country is a corporate playground every day, I know that one of these groups has probably hired a lawyer, and is suing to stop it. I lend them my support in small amounts, but often and for a long time. The point about politics, is that it changes, and its complicated. Looking through this list, you can say I am concerned with people and the planet, which is a good thing, but my political leanings aren’t set in stone. Stones are the obstacle. Remember that!

2. We need economic drops: I don’t have a lot of dollar votes to work with in this category, but I try to stay informed and do business locally or with companies that are doing things a little better than others. Its not democratic by a long shot to think that how you spend your dollars is enough to guide markets or corporate decisions. I hate the argument that “well if you don’t like the company or the way they act, don’t buy from them.” I posted about it before, but it has always irked me. So what does that mean, that the only people who count are the Gateses, Whinfries, Packards,… and Bushes, because they have more $ votes than most of the rest of us put together? It would be naive to think that even the collective purchases of a huge fraction of people would have much effect on the people who own everything (and I mean the government too.) Boycotting companies, and buying local does make me feel better, though, and more importantly, if I am thinking about every single purchase I am making in terms of health, community, and environment, I am being reminded of my responsibility to the earth, my children, and neighbors, and that goes a long way to getting me to add my drops to the bucket. Plus, 9 times out of 10 when I buy something from the people growing, or making the product I am getting a better product. You want to participate in tinkle down economics, fine, be a dope, but I prefer to be a part of the trickle of economics against the plutocratic mountain.

3. We need doing drops: It is “we”; that means you do things, and I do things. Hang your close on a line instead of using a machine once in a while. Walk instead of drive. Compost, and reuse. Don’t buy new when you can use what you have, or buy used. All this hurts the economic status quo, but that’s what we want, right? A change. What it means is that you have to learn how to do more things for yourself instead of depending on the cheap shit you get from the marts. Learn how to fix that broken lamp instead of buying a new one. You just may feel a little more satisfied in life when you accomplish something real. It works; you would be surprised. The solutions to our problems won’t come packaged up, won’t be able to buy them somewhere.

Sorry to say it, but a Prius and CFL’s won’t help us all that much in long term. The government can’t fix things either, in so much as they don’t do the work they legislate. They can, and should stop the old ways, so we don’t die in our own tinkle, but they can’t produce what will replace it. Being interconnected doesn’t mean we have to be interdependent, and thus interned. Interconnection means we have to willingly share our lives on teh planet.

The last point is that our priorities should be set properly. We have leaned from the Baby Boomers, that “me first” gets us a bitchy, depressing, and boringly unoriginal culture, full of apes more interested in getting $$ and comfort than anything else. So what is important? I think I have written over and over again, that if we put our priorities in order, we won’t be so stressed about competing over everything. Environment, family, health, and education all add to life. However you want to quantify the idols you worship, the alternatives produce better societies, period.

Go out and imagine the drops of water slowing working away at our problems. The drops of water, that when combined, make a river, and then a sea. And imagine that sea rising, and falling as waves on the shore. They are part of the same. You are part of it all, and it is good, and you are strong, even against the stones that lie in your way.

For me, today was cloth instead of disposable. You?

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