[Editor’s note: I’m just writing this off the cuff, and yes it’s a bit soapbox-ish but I’ll share with you no less. And no, I’ll proof read it tomorrow.]
I came across this ‘On The Brink’ site on Weather.com today. I was going to check the weather to see if it was going to ever stop raining but I got sidetracked by the photo of the dead jaguar and figured I’d check it out. It looks to be a series of videos talking about endangered animals. I watched the first one and learned a little bit about Alan Rabinowitz and his crusade to protect wild big cats across the globe. Check it out for yourself. His organization is called Panthera and it’s mission is to ensure the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action. The episode one video highlights the plight of jaguars in Central and South America. To thrive they need contiguous plots of land to be able to move, find food and raise their young. Human intrusion though is destroying their habitat and the animals the jaguar needs to prey upon to survive. Additionally the killing of jaguars is obviously putting a hamper on their ability to survive as a species. Mr. Rabinowitz is just one example of the people out there who have dedicated themselves to being the “voice” of these animals which otherwise do not have a voice. In this case, large cats that are critical to the survival of all species on earth including our own.
I was moved enough to make a meager donation, join the mailing list and post up links on Facebook, all of which took me about 5 minutes to do. The point isn’t that “wow, look at me I’m great”, rather the point is it got me thinking. I never did check the weather by the way.
Anyway it got me thinking, about life and our purpose here. I think this is something most of us put off or don’t think about too much in the course of a day and I think that’s a shame really. I won’t get too deep down that road this evening but I will make two points in tonight’s post.
Point number one…we can make a difference. Like each one of us can make a difference. Not just for this cause but all the worthwhile causes you can think of. Personally I try to focus on the organisms that don’t have a voice, as it was put in the video so to speak. Also focusing on macro, irreversible issues….most of which deal with the long term health of the environment and subsequently human beings. Who wants to describe to their kids what jaguars, lions and tigers used to look like? Why not show them these beautiful animals in the wild. After all I’m lazy, by time I explain it to my kid I’ll have blown my brains out…far easier to show him something that exists I say.
Anyway, we can make a difference; I think we just get busy or lazy or whatever with the day to day life. And while I believe donating money or time is good, and you should do these things for causes you believe in and are good for the world, there is something more powerful all of us can do to change the world. It’s as simple as this, and you don’t even have to do much homework before hand. Next time you get together with someone…anyone…your family at dinner, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your accountant, the guys at the bar…ask a simple question, “what if the world didn’t have _____?” and fill in the blank with “jaguars” or “frogs” or “fresh water” or “women’s rights” or whatever moves you. I’m talking about fundamental human things here, not Twinkies or religious ideology or political interests. Try to limit it to a five minute conversation if need be. Share a story or your perspective. Listen if they have a perspective or make it okay if they don’t.
You want to save the world? Get someone to think about something they’ve never thought about or don’t think about that often. Something that is happening right now, “out there“. The best part is it’s the most powerful way to enact change and it’s totally free. Education, compassion, and thought are weapons we wield against a world that has little patience for vision, creativity and imagination.
If we don’t act, who will?
If not now, when?
Secondly, if you are young and in school and looking for direction, have the courage to change this world for the better. It’s much easier to do so when you don’t have mouths to feed at home. The world is depending on you, you just happen to have the luxury of not having to directly take care of us generally speaking. If you are young take the time to understand yourself, your interests and the world around you. Harness and nurture your optimism and wonder and use them as shield against everything that is bad in this world. Commit to doing something with your life. If a little change can happen in 5 mins, what can happen in the next forty years? And don’t be afraid to respectfully challenge the status quo. Learn, listen, think and invent. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (hint: I’m almost forty and have no idea what I want to be when I grow up) then gain an understanding of yourself and your dreams at a macro (i.e. really broad, high up) level…commit to what fundamentally drives you as a person. If you don’t know what any of the means, start to think about the world around you beyond what you are used to.
Also learn art, story telling, and salesmanship because if you’re going to change the world you’ll need a general understanding of these. Bonus points for natural sciences, math and psychology. Learn to lead, and learn to follow….and nurture a sense to know when to do which. Learn to listen. Guard optimism, open-mindedness, imagination and a hard work ethic as if your life depended on it. Bad news is you’ve got your work cut out for you. Good news is you’re stronger than you think. With a good map and a backpack of tools there isn’t a danger you can’t face head on. Don’t be afraid to be bold. And always remember, you can be the change in this world.
Look we’re all busy. I have so many irons in the fire it’s not even a fire anymore, just a bunch of red hot irons feeding off each other. What I’m suggesting requires little effort because it is compounded by the power of the individual (which I firmly believe is the most powerful entity in the world). I’ll use the example of my pathetic blog, which is mostly read by my family ’cause they feel sorry for me or just in case they need legal proof of insanity at a future date. But beyond mom, dad, wife, sis, John, various people named Pat and a handful of other people I know or know of, there actually are strangers who read my posts. Usually they are looking for ways to hang an L-shaped shower curtain rod on a slanted ceiling, but they land here none the less. And they are from all over the world like Malaysia, India, Ethiopia, Viet Nam, Germany, France, Thailand and other place. Places where big cats live. So if the 20 or so visitors I get a day each went out and talked for 5 minutes with someone about the plight of big cats in our world how much impact would that have? More than just me. What if they each ponied up $25 apiece to Alan’s cause, or some other cause…$500 a day…that’s not to bad. Or what if they all posted up on Facebook “Hey check this out, big cat’s will be extinct in the next 25 years if we don’t try and do something” with a link to the Panthera site. You can get a sense for how powerful the individual person really is. And it’s not me…I only told 20 people…maybe another 57 on Facebook. And no, I didn’t have a face to face convo with a friend about it but I will. And no I didn’t have to go camp in the jungle or get eaten by a lion to prove a point. I just have to ask one of the most powerful questions known to mankind.
The cats are just one example. If that’s not your thing, no worries, we’ve got your back. While we’re protecting cats you go protect something else….with like 7 billion people you’d think we’d be able to easily protect everything but apparently not. So we’ll have to step up but together we got this. Our kids won’t know what to do with themselves with us solving all the world’s problems – they’ll laugh at old timer “when I was your age we had to protect big cats otherwise there wouldn’t be any”.
Best part is you can probably have a beer, if you’re old enough, while you’re saving the world if you plan it right.
Be good kids, and I’ll leave you with one of my favorites:
“Oh if a man tried to take his time on earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen to this world”