The recent election result in the UK reminded me of our own last year. Once again, people voted for promises of economic profit rather than care for the community, care for our land. Once again, it was a right-wing victory.
I'm not well enough educated in politics to offer any reasons for this, especially since I'm so thoroughly bewildered by it. Our country is renowned for it's clean green image and yet we voted to retain fracking, oil drilling, and the exploitation of conservation parks; and although we have a wonderful history of human rights leadership, yet we voted for war, reduced community support, and bald. arrogant dismissal of the fact that thousands of children here are going hungry and need help.
My despair after the election was deep. But upon reflection I suspect I'd be feeling even more despair now had the left won. Because of course nothing would have changed. Oil drilling and child poverty did not start with the current government. And look for example to America, to all of Obama's wasted promises. Leaders may be great and ethical people, but within the system it's very hard to bring about real change. Unless something radical happens, like getting an honestly Green government, politics will always go on looking the same : focussed on money, manipulated by big business. Everything will continue to be perceived as a resource or an expense, rather than an ancient forest, a living ocean, a human being.
I have a wild sense that the only real way out of this mire is to break down the bedrock and make ourselves a new road. That seems impossible, I know. But let's be honest. We're never going to find a real solution to our serious problems - climate change, poverty, unemployment, the institutionalisation of childhood, the reduction of our humanity into production and consuming units - from government leadership. These are things that can only change when communities have the real will to make those changes.
We need to keep protesting. We need to use the power of our dollar to force change and support the ethics we believe in.
But we also need to lift up ourselves.
Here's a baker dozen of things almost anyone can do, regardless of which political party is in government, to bring real hope, real change to the world ...
1.. Take a bag and go walking along a beach or woodland track to clean up the rubbish.
2. Band together to create a new community-based kind of school.
3. Support parents of young children so they aren't forced to use institutional day care.
4. Use the green dollar system, trading food or services with your neighbour.
5. Buy local.
6. Change your perception of disabled people as being worthless just because they can't work.
7. Visit rest homes and teach your children to honour the elderly.
8. Walk instead of drive.
9. Eat less meat.
10. Put aside a couple of dollars a week to help feed starving children in your own neighbourhood.
11. Volunteer to plant trees, set rodent traps, support wildlife.
12. Turn lawns into clover, or vegetable patches, or a sanctuary for two or three trees.
13. Tell stories that matter, that nourish people's spirit rather than just titillating them.
I can think of many more things - small, easy things that might not make a big immediate difference but, put together with other people's small efforts, and with the power of momentum, can grow into something really incredible.
We can weep over the appalling state of politics. We can rage and complain. But even more effective is to take responsibility ourselves for the sort of change we want to see in this world. No, we as individuals can not reduce global carbon emissions. But that's never going to happen, under any government, without fundamental changes to the psyche of the population. That is where the real work lies. In the hearts, households, and wallets of people.
I believe we desperately, urgently need a revolution. But not one that tears down the government - instead, one that builds the community up. A revolution of caring.
(For deeper thought on this subject, you might like to read this article by Sharon Blackie.)