How Do We Change the World
Two weeks ago I unwittingly devised a trifecta of ways to put myself into a depression: I read Naomi Klein’s tome on climate change, This Changes Everything, which was hands down the most depressing book I’ve ever read, if only because of the subject matter. I watched the documentary Cowspiracy, which floored me by showing how destructive animal farming is to the environment. And I watched all ten episodes of Band of Brothers, which was a great reminder that no matter how noble the cause, war really is pretty dumb.
Climate change is an issue that leaves me feeling the most hopeless. I have two children, and both have recently become parents themselves. I worry what kind of world we’re leaving behind for our children and grandchildren. Many of us do everything we can as individuals to tread lightly on the Earth, but is it enough? While I do take seriously the idea that change begins with one person, I also know that when profit is your only reason for existing, greed is usually the result. And greed keeps the corporate machine very well-oiled.
Which is why I watched Cowspiracy on Netflix. I’ve made several attempts through the years to practice what I preach and stop eating animal products, but it never stuck. My main reason for not wanting to eat meat has always been the inhumane way our animals are penned and slaughtered. The wake-up moment for me, however, was when Howard Lyman, a former cattle rancher, says “You can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.” This film really spells it out for me.
(Photo courtesy of Johannes Kühnel, Wikimedia Commons)
(And I have to say, calling yourself an environmentalist these days is parallel with calling yourself a feminist. The labels have become so much more than the actual meanings of the words.)
I don’t know why it took me years to watch Band of Brothers. I love Damian Lewis, I love a good WWII drama, and I loved Band of Brothers. But nothing, nothing depresses me more than war. It seems these days that war is never-ending–and so little spoken of. We bomb, we use drones, we send our sons and daughters to the Middle East, and we pretend it isn’t happening. As a mother, I will never understand.
On a note of hope: I admire the nonviolent protests taking place on Standing Rock. I think this is the way we will change the world, by a group of like-minded people standing together against something they know is wrong. These brave people aren’t doing this on a whim, they’re standing up for all of us against the fossil fuel industry. I love how they call themselves protectors instead of protestors. I do realize we already have oil and natural gas pipelines snaking all across the country, but maybe it’s time to say enough is enough. We can do better.
There are so many issues these days that threaten to put me in a permanent state of depression, but that’s no way to live. And letting myself get depressed over issues that seem overwhelming and hopeless is neither effective nor helpful to anyone else. If adopting a vegan lifestyle and supporting those who stand up to the fossil fuel industry is all I have to offer at the moment, so be it.
I have no answers for anyone, only lots and lots of questions. And that’s at least a good place to start.