TaN: My work gives me both pleasure and sadness – but, most of all, it puts tremendous pressure on me. My pleasure is that my work permits me to influence young minds – to, somehow, mitigate the horrendous damage my generation is inflicting on this planet on the minds of the next generation/s. My sadness is that my colleagues are oblivious to the damage they are contributing to the future. I cannot fault my colleagues for not being conscious to the impact or influence they have on the future actions of their students; however, it does not excuse nor absolve them of the responsibility to exert efforts to remedy or, at least, mitigate the damaging effects.
What I am referring to is how my colleagues are – or appear to be – unware that they are setting bad examples for their charges. We frequently forget that we should “walk the talk”, “practice what we preach”, and “lead by example”. But I would not only be a hypocrite if I will not be the first to admit and confess that I am far from the ideal. Oftentimes, I would either be taken aback by my sudden realization of my inappropriate actions or be “reminded” by a colleague.
It puts extra pressure on me since it is my field so I have to be an example and somehow influence others. Most people do not like to be “reminded” that they should walk the straight and narrow and not give in to convenience, to peer pressure, to conformity (the wrong kind), to expediency, to “herd mentality”, to comfort, to temptation. No matter how difficult the task, we must live up to it. It is our duty – especially if we are Christians – to obey the admonitions of the Father and His Son, which is to reach the highest stage of our moral development (according to Lawrence Kohlberg) which is Universal Ethical Principles where we do the right thing without having to be told, without having to have people look over our shoulders, without having to have rules and laws to dictate our actions. At all times, we are conscious of our actions and our decorum – to ensure that we act in the highest of standards and treat others as they deserve and meant to be treated.
TaN: If we are to make this world a better place, change must be tackled both at the local and at the global level, simultaneously. Globalized capitalism and consumerism is unprecedented and must be met head on on all fronts.
It is not enough that the crisis we (i.e., those who are concerned about the road we are treveling down on) are experiencing is addressed only at the global scale or at the local arena. Most of the impacts brought about by globalization and consumerism knows no borders.
Smoke and airborne pollution from transportation and from industry does not recognize political boundaries. They are carried by the winds across vast distances and affect people in far away places – innocent people who have no inkling as to why they are experiencing pulmonary distress (like COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are severely harmed by irresponsible and unbridled spewing of toxic air pollutants and contaminants originating from clear across the other side of the planet. A case in point would be the huge clouds of smog of China reaching the Northern Hemisphere – Canada and the United States of America.
Both residential and industrial liquid wastes and sludge and most notriously plastics – though on a more limited scale – likewise traverse human boundaries and eventually find their way into the oceans. A case in point is the infamous plastic island/s in the Pacific and in the Atlantic Oceans – lately, another plastic island has been discovered and it was found to behave like an iceberg where the visible surface mass was only 10 percent of what can be found below the surface (see: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/18-3).
Finally, through innocent human migratory and business activities – especially those involving biotechnology companies like Monsanto and like Syngenta, with their altered seeds and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – have (intentionally or not) introduced alien and invasive species into habitats that potentially changed their equilibrium and created uncontrollable pests. They threaten the (survival or very existence of) endemic flora and fauna and may contaminate the gene pool. Irreversibly disturbing the equilibrium of a unique habitat can result in a chain reaction that will cause a breakdown in the intricate and delicately-balanced web of life and bring about the extinction of one or more species that exclusively rely on the former for its existence.
As we battle against local issues (like garbage segregation and like overflowing landfills), the global issue of trade liberalization and of sweatshops must be equally addressed because it is a principal source of garbage – in most industrialized countries and in countries that desire to be industrialized and follow unsustainable practices, all for the sake of economic growth through planned obsolescence. For as long as sweatshops keep churning out cheap goods, environmental destruction and degradation will continue. Cheap goods cause mountains of garbage, in terms of packaging, in terms of discarding yesterday’s goods because there are “new and improved” ones even when the current ones are still working fine, and in terms of discarding damaged and damaged-beyond-repair goods due to poor quality of workmanship or due to cheap raw materials. All these add up to mountains of waste, of social and of environmental problems.
In conclusion, the world today is so intricately intertwined that nothing happens in the local level that will not impact the global environment and vice versa. In this sense, it becomes essential that all our actions be thought of carefully due to the ripple effect – in both directions – or, worse, a tsunami effect. In addition, whatever we do may someday come back to us and may even have been magnified – a case of: karma or karmic law, law of action and reaction, what goes around comes around, law of equilibrium.