“Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.”
It has been twenty five years since we were introduced to the World Wide Web. Most of us were already using computers in our workplace; big clunky things with key boards that clicked, green cursors winking at us from a dark screen. When we splurged on a home computer, we would have to sit at a desk, listening to the dial up modem calling up the internet as we impatiently thrummed our fingers and jiggled our legs. If you didn’t have two phone lines in your home, you had to choose between the phone and the internet. A busy signal would tell your friends what you were up to.
Look at us now! Today we can pull up the internet on a smart phone while we sit at a traffic light, endangering the lives of ourselves and others. We can know what family and friends are doing the instant they do it. We are in touch with friends and strangers through twitter and facebook. Digital phones and cameras mean that we can virtually attend functions far away. Live streaming video gives access to worlds we know nothing about.
They talk about globalization, but really what has happened is that we have turned the world into a village where you run into friends in the store, and talk with neighbors over the fence. We are more connected than ever. Or are we? Do we really appreciate the impact the behavior of one can have on the many? According to chaos theory, our planet is so interconnected that a simple action on one side of the globe can contribute to a major effect on the other side: the butterfly effect. Dramatically they say that a butterfly flapping its wings here can cause a cyclone in the South Seas. We are all familiar with a chain reaction, one small event which triggers a cascade of bad luck ruining your day and possibly the lives of many others.
Yet we live our lives oblivious to the consequences of our actions. Every year in the US 96 billion pounds of food is wasted. This while 50 million people in this country alone face hunger. And the decaying waste also has an impact on the environment, emitting greenhouse gases which change the climate. How much food do you waste? I know I am guilty. We buy food which we leave languishing in the fridge, intending to fix that huge salad. We cook far more food than we need, then forget to take it to work the next day. And whose kids eat left-over food?
This week I heard a report about the callous disregard for human life by those in the oil industry. They use radioactive ‘filter socks’ in oil production, and they have been found to be illegally dumped on Indian reservations and other areas of North Dakota, emitting harmful radiation. Native Americans are already challenged with significant health risks caused by poverty and centuries of oppression, and now they have to monitor their dumps and landfills for radioactive waste. We are all connected.
It is easy to fool yourself into thinking you are self-sufficient, that you don’t need people. I am learning that when you are at your lowest, it is the people in your life that can make the difference. The connections you have, your relationships, these are the things that can carry you through. How well are you attending to your relationships? Do you reach out? Do you lend an ear or a shoulder? These are the things that will come back to you a hundredfold in your time of need.
We are all connected. Do not fool yourself for one moment that you are alone. But we have to feel that compassion for others if we are to change the world. And compassion needs to begin with ourselves. If we are not attentive to our own needs, and nourish ourselves first, we will have nothing to offer to others. One of the hardest things to do is to work on yourself, to heal those places that are broken, to forgive those actions that may have happened years ago that we still hold onto. Once we are at ease with ourselves, connected to the divine life force that shines through us, then we can connect with the light in others.
This weekend I hope you will spend a little time to think of how you can work on yourself, work on your actions, and help to heal our broken world. We are all connected. The small changes you make in your own life may have huge consequences and impact the lives of those around you, and even cause a cyclone on the other side of the world! Pay attention to the small things, they may have huge effects.
Have a wonderful weekend family!