Taking the leap from the day-to-day to the big world
It can seem strange that any single change of behaviour will have any real effect in the wider world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says that this is exactly how we will change the world. But this step seems like a big leap from the day-to-day to the big world. This seemed like a useful reflection for Earth Day.
On reflection, Buddhism describes making small changes to our behaviour day-by-day and these become habits. Whether we those small changes are:
- Trying not to be so fast to anger by developing more compassion for those in our day-to-day life, including school and work colleagues.
- Being more generous with others, such as buying breakfast for a homeless person.
- Buying things made with recyclable materials and recycle the products once they reach the end of their lifecycle.
- Using public transport more often, such as taking the bus.
- Not going on cruise vacations and the cruiseships are terrible polluters.
These are small changes that start out from a positive motivation that have an outward effect on others. They change the lives of yourself and others in small ways.
Shift in thinking
But there is a wider change when these small changes become embedded within us and they become second nature. At that stage they have become incorporated into our general thinking and world view, having an implicit effect on our wider decision making processes about other things. For example:
- Our compassion for others grows from the school and workplace to fellow citizens in your country, and to the citizens of the world. We might develop more concern for the people being failed by the social system, the poor, and refugees arrived from overseas.
- Our concern for the environment shifts to larger regional and government policies, including greenhouse emissions targets and fines for companies that fail to meet them.
These ‘bigger picture’ issues inevitably require engaging with your local and national political representatives. You might do this by writing letters to them or ask what they are doing to reduce pollution. If you have changed then perhaps they can change in the same way. If they are unable to reflect your opinions then vote for somebody else at the next election. Your vote in the election is your voice, if you don’t vote you have no voice.
The Earth could be beautiful, but only if we are willing to do the work and make the changes. In other words, we can change the world starting with the world directly around you. We can make the world a more beautiful place. But only if we actively make changes in our day-to-day lives all the way to the big world view.