“If you’re waiting to be led by someone who isn’t at least a little bit hypocritical then you’ll be waiting till you’re dead”.
Recently I went on a workshop that talked about how our world leaders (and by these I do not mean politicians, by the way, but peacemakers, climate change scientists, spiritual teachers, yoga instructors and the people who give meaning to our lives) and we all agreed that most, if not all of them are hypocrites in some way or another. Environmental activists who fly thousands of miles to give talks, buddhist teachers who get pissed off with random people who do silly things, the Quaker lady who kicked the wheel of a car because it was in her way, vegans who buy soya made from deforested virgin Amazonian forest…. I could go on.
But does that mean that we cannot learn the deep, ground shaking message that they have? Does it mean somehow that my own hypocrisies counter all my good intentions? Does it mean then that I might as well not try, because I like a good takeaway and use the car quite a bit? Are we looking for justification for not listening? For not even trying?
I realised a few years ago that to be of this world meant to contribute quite significantly to its problems. Every year I use 2.2 worlds to sustain my life. I worked it out. If I took away car use it went down to just 2.0 worlds. Staggering. Seeing as I recycle almost everything, barely throw any organic matter away (and by this I mean anything carbon-based. Why should natural things be called ‘organic’ when things laced with chemicals are not even labelled, let alone named?! Daft is it not, that we allow these chemical-laden half-foods into our eons-old bodies. But this is the world upon which we have to build our lives.) If you want to work out your Earth usage you can do it here: http://calculator.bioregional.com The average Brit uses 3 worlds each year. And that’s just because we need a vast network of infrastructure like a safety net in our lives: the NHS; roads; Tesco; schools; wifi; heating; water…… ad nauseum .
Short of living in a cave (and this is often very tempting) and living off spring water and offerings to the gods given by local people, I’m in this world. I am contributing to its problems just by breathing, let alone by reproducing, eating, travelling, shopping and watching DVDs on occasion. This feeling fills me with justifiable shame. Yet it also shoves me to the front of the whole bunch of us who are in this together: to bloody well do something about it and stop bemoaning this inherited shambles as if I cannot do a thing about it.
So how? How can I, or we, do anything about not being untouchably perfect in our lives on this planet? How can we face this hypocrite that lives within us every day? Firstly, by staring it right in the face and naming it within ourselves. I am a hypocrite. There. Said it.
Then, to work to off-set our own lives where we can. If I travel today, then I won’t tomorrow. If I eat ready meals today then tomorrow I’ll eat locally produced food. If I use a lot of electricity today then I’ll make sure it’s from 100% renewable sources. And if there are things I cannot do, then I’ll support those who are doing it on my behalf: such as Amnesty International or Friends of the Earth. And I will spread the word. That things can be different and that this life, this Earth, this over-stretch of resources does not have to continue.
Small steps, but vital ones, if we are to accept who we are and live lives that we can be at least partly happy with.