Thursday, January 18, 2018

A throw-away world

It's strange, isn't it, how something can be going on around us, increasing in intensity week by week, yet leaving us almost totally blind to its negative power and effect.

How is it that, over the years, plastic has been welcomed into every aspect of our daily lives without us pausing to consider its destructive implications for the environment?

From early morning, when we squeeze toothpaste from a plastic tube onto the plastic bristles of a plastic tooth-brush, our days are

I'm typing this on a plastic keyboard, a plastic phone sits beside me, whilst, on the table, a magazine that arrived this morning is wrapped in plastic clingfilm.  As for the plastic containers in the kitchen, and the milk in its plastic bottle, stored in a largely plastic refrigerator . . . I'm sure you can see what I mean.

But what's struck me is not just the proliferation of plastic, but the way plastic, and a surfeit of packaging, has influenced our way of thinking .  . . unconsciously, we now feel we live in a disposable world.

We're a throw-away society, and we never stop to question this state of affairs.
Water-bottles, tea-bags, coffee-mugs and sweet-wrappers, we throw them away as though they don't matter.  But they do matter because that's precisely what they are.   They are matter . . . a man-made form of matter which is hostile to the environment.

If we did stop to think about our actions, we'd realise something else . . . namely that you can't just throw something away.  The discarded object hasn't disappeared.  It is now litter on the street, or an unwanted element in the soil   As unpleasant evidence of one of our least attractive habits, look at the blobs of chewing-gum splattered over the urban pavements . . . it's a highly-adhesive gum that has no intention of quietly melting away.

Yes, we can use a litter-bag for disposable items.  And, yes, the council will collect what we discard.  But it still ends up accumulating in a tip, where only a percentage is recycled.  It's a sobering thought that human beings are the only life form on the planet that constantly create damaging and destructive rubbish.

Nor does this end with physical rubbish.  Disposable rubbish has entered the mental realm.  Have you noticed how we are growing more and more partial to throw-away remarks?

It's as though we ponder less, react more quickly, and dispose of our views with less consideration as to the outcome.

The comments we post on social media are rather like our throw-away wrappers.
We think we've discarded them, only to discover that they frequently leave unintended damage in their wake.

So, what can be done?  Surely it's not too late to add another New Year resolution.
How about resolving to acknowledge the precious nature of every component of the natural world?

Let's promise to value, treasure and conserve all that we handle in our daily lives.  Let's dispense with as much plastic as we can, re-use our water-bottles and darn our socks .

As for those throw-away remarks, the ones that we scatter so thoughtlessly . . . didn't someone once say that silence is golden?

Perhaps that's my cue to depart!

Monday, January 1, 2018

A happy and grateful New Year

We've reached the end of the holiday season, it's time to turn our thoughts to the future . . .  may I wish you a very happy New Year?

True, we've seen plenty of new years before, but wouldn't you agree that this one seems particularly significant?

It comes after a year of much change, much confusion, and much that was unexpected.

As the door closes on 2017, the world is left feeling more than a little worried, stressed and exhausted.
We're apprehensive as to what the future holds.  Floundering in uncertainty, we feel greatly in need of  some solid basis for hope.

This worldwide apprehension is fuelled by a great variety of factors.  Factors which include accelerating climate change,  the migrant crisis, the threat of terrorism, and, for many countries, internal discord created by growing political and religious divisions.   In addition to all of this, faith in democracy has been badly shaken.

So, what awaits us in 2018?
It's hard to be optimistic.

Yet, if 2018 is to rise out of the smouldering ashes of 2017, surely optimism should feature as our primary New Year Resolution?

True, fear generates fear,  and antagonism, generates antagonism.  But, and this is the good news, there's another side to the story.

Optimism, hope, happiness, generosity, compassion and gratitude generate their own positive and infectious energies in equal measure . . . even typing those words gave me a sense of their potency.
Just say them aloud . . .  you'll see what I mean.

Another New Year Resolution to consider is contained in the wise words of an ancient Tibetan proverb:  "Eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure."

But may I leave the last word to Br. David Steindl-Rast?  
Click here to guarantee that you'll step into 2018 with an abiding sense of gratitude.

So, on this New Year's Day, let's wish each other a happy, loving and grateful New Year, a year filled with compassion and laughter.

And, who knows, you and I may have many more reasons for gratitude before the new year ends!