“One Thing You Can Do” – the second in a series of short essays

November 14, 2018

Stop by Uli Nagel

One thing we can do is to stop. Try not to turn away from the uncertainty of our human future. It’s easy to escape from the real, big picture. Even activism, I found, can be a way to escape: reminding friends to off-set their carbon footprint, practicing self-care, attending protests, donating to Greenpeace, riding my bike to work, inventing a new gadget. We are really busy and want to think we are doing our part.

Yet, the situation is so much more complex and profound than any of us can grasp or handle individually, let alone change in our personal lives.

Facing into scary, overwhelming uncertainty, while still doing all these good things, is uncomfortable. It can seem almost impossible. 

In stopping, we can mourn, despair, cry. Many deep thinkers say those things can make us grow, similar perhaps to the way some people respond when they are given a dire diagnosis by their doctor. It can change our way of looking at the world, enough maybe to find new access and responses to our predicament. Responses that include more aspects of life: our relationship to mortality, to the earth and its beauty, our relationship to ourselves, and the positive role we can play in this world.