What Would You Do—Really Do—If You Meant All You Said About Saving The World?

By: Alan Fortescue *

So I found this cool internet music service. For a small monthly fee I can play just about any song I want—a very useful feature when trying to work at the office. No matter what my mood, or whatever my task, I can find a song through which I can focus.

For example, as I sat down to write this blog entry I could not quite put into words what I was thinking until I pulled up the Dave Matthews Band version of the Bob Dylan song, "All Along the Watchtower." Fortunately for me (as is usually happens while listening to music) my ideas became unstuck. The "unsticking" happened when one particular line grabbed my heart and soul.

"Let us stop talking falsely now, the hour is getting late." It got me thinking The last thing I want to do in writing about global environmental problems is to pile more words on the well pile of other words that seem to create little change. I guess I am just not down with saying clever things that sound good but have little effect beyond the day's end. In a nation where the direst of news is so easily supplanted by the next "more dire" news, hurricane replaced by sex scandal replaced by election fraud, there sometimes seems little power in saying anything at all. I wonder to what degree people simply get lost in the BLING of the news, as opposed to its content.

Next comes the navel-gazing: what about all the things I say? For example, how often—through my work as Director of Education at Earthwatch www.earthwatch.org—do I espouse a view about the environment, or a prescription for someone's behavior, that my own actions do not live up to? Am I "talking falsely"? I know all about global warming and climate change, and yet I still commute to work a hefty distance, to name one inconsistency.

How many of us—Treehuggers alike—espouse views about wanting to "save" the world, about wanting to make a real difference, only to get into our SUV and drive back home to our McMansion?

Ok, I know Treehuggers don't drive SUVs, but maybe you get my drift: it is a lot easier to talk the talk than to truly walk the walk. However, I am a bit skeptical about citizen action these days. There seems to be little overt, coordinated, widespread action about the dismantling of our environment, despite public opinion polls which show it is a major social concern. Also, being someone who would much rather be outside, in the world, interacting with people, I am a bit skeptical of the online community.

Pardon me for asking, as a novice blogger, but what do people really do with what they read and say here, in forums like this? Does it truly inspire you to make yourself or your world different? Or, is it an easy way to feel involved without really doing anything?

Again, sorry if that comes off as harsh, I am operating from a framework of genuine curiosity. You see, a bunch of studies on teaching and learning have shown that information grazing, so to speak, appears to have little, if any, effect on what people do and how they behave.

But, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. In fact, I would like to find a venue that can actually churn information into meaningful action. So I put it to you, faithful of the internet and Treehugger, what do YOU think? You read Treehugger and are likely a well-informed citizen: what do you actually do to change the negative things we read about each day? And, since we are at it, if you are motivated to respond, tell me not only what you do, but how you see your action as having impact. One last question: what does what you do, really do?

Image credit::Taste of France, Watchtower

* the views expressed are those of the blogger and not necessarily Earthwatch Institute.
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