Floodwaters barreled through the creeks and rivers the Yellowstone River Basin last month, slamming into whole communities, many of them gateways to Yellowstone National Park. Like an otherworldly steam roller, water took out friends’ homes. What’s more, the aftermath is still putting many of those homes at risk with changed river channels threatening the stability of the banks. In some cases, ticking moment by moment toward a crumbling, a sudden vanishing of the foundations holding up lives.
Our friends living in the wake of these crushing losses have had little bandwidth for anything else. They are focused very close in. And yet in their peripheral vision they could see in the past week another kind of disaster rolling through – the destructive cascade of radical decisions handed down from the nation’s highest court.
And here it all is. So much at once. The curve balls of rapidly shifting circumstance firing in our direction at a pace we can barely follow. What can any of us possibly do by way of peace, by way of connection and repair?
Really, the only thing is to act with integrity and wisdom in the sphere of your influence. The environmental slogan, “Think globally, act locally,” is now more germane than ever.
When it comes to repairing your relationship with the natural world – to reclaiming your truest nature – the first thing is to STOP. Just stop. Stop the worry, the planning, the strains of regret. Stop everything. See what’s left.*
This can sound quite counter-intuitive. “Stop when the world is on fire or flooding? Stop when fundamental rights have been overturned or granted only to the few? Stop in the midst of the madness? That’s madness!!”
But is it?
How seduced are you into believing the panicked actions you take on impulse are the dues you pay for being a good enough person? How much of your wisdom do you forfeit when you react instead of slowing to consider? How often are your energies wasted because you fail to hold still long enough to hear the clarity of what you know is the best action in any given moment? Or do you simply do nothing hoping someone else will act – or hoping it will all just go away?
Now is the time to listen in. To act from here.
It won’t be easy. But that’s mostly because you’ve been socialized away from the keen knowledge of who you really are and what you want. What is it that your truest nature is telling you?
To truly think globally and act locally, you must first stop. You must listen, not to the grind of a world addicted to the lie that humans are separate from nature. That lie has created the shaky ground that is our economy, our politics, our polarization, and our own daily participation in fortifying a system that benefits few and takes from everyone else. A system that takes way more than necessary from the earth itself
What are we doing?
Now is the time to think globally and act locally. Here are some things for you to consider.
What if you:
- Bought most of your food from farmers, ranchers, and processors within 100 miles of where you live?
- Invested 80% of your savings in enterprises and businesses within that same circle?
- Looked with commitment into the wellbeing of the land, starting with your yard and working out from there into that 100 miles?
- Focused your charitable giving close to home?
- Volunteered with a non-profit within walking or biking distance?
For sure you can think of more examples, and we want to know what you come up with.
Here’s the thing. When you interact locally – within the circle of your life and home – and everyone else does the same, the circles overlap and, as a result, everyone and everything is well cared for.
The present and growing truth of our natural and political climates is instability, sudden change and destruction. The external structures we have long relied upon are falling apart. But as nature teaches us, disruption yields new windows for creativity, for communion with each other and the natural world.
Who are you? What do you want?
Live the answers within the sphere of your influence. Do not give into any impulse to lord your way over others. No tree or bird or mushroom or snake will do well trying to be you or to enact your purpose. No other person will either.
In this time of vast and unknown transformation, locate yourself in the center of your life. Live your truth from there. For most of us, that truth will involve love and regard, respect and celebration of the relationships we have with other people and the animals, plants and land that support us. Relationships are what knits the world together, whether in the end, there are people or not.
Will people continue to thrive? None of us can know the answer. But what we can do is act from where and who we are. And only you can know what that means for you.
Then ask, “Who am I really? What do I want?”
Integrity follows from here.
*For more on Stopping, check out our book Full Ecology – Repairing Our Relationship with the Natural World