Tuesday 27 December 2011

Unto thine own self be true.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the myriad views people have about what's wrong with the world - and all the differing opinions we have about what our priorities 'should be' when it comes to awareness raising and/or engaging in direct action to effect change.

There are so many pressing issues that I cannot begin to list them all. They include (in no particular order) deforestation, climate change & peak oil, bee decline, loss of biodiversity, social and economic injustice, animal welfare, the banking system, the power of the multinationals, soil degradation, GMOs, pesticides, pollution…..the list goes on.

Having run around like a headless chicken for many years trying to help raise awareness of most of the above, I decided a few years ago to try and focus on the issues I personally feel most passionate about. This doesn't mean I don't care about the others, or that I think they are less important or pressing than those that I choose to focus on.... it just means I believe I can be more effective with my time and energy if I follow my own heart rather than someone else's heart. I also believe I can be more effective if I work in my own way, with my own skills.

We have all been gifted different skills, personalities, abilities and world views, so it stands to reason that we are going to have different ways of doing things. This is just wonderful because it means that, collectively, we can appeal to a much wider range of people. However it means also we will not always agree with each other!

Some of us are politically minded, some are not. Some put their trust in science; others in spiritual or 'alternative' practices.  Some are only just waking up to the fact that there are problems to be dealt with whilst others have been campaigning for decades. There are those who choose to 'be the change' by quietly living low impact lives and there are activists who are prepared to face injury and even death for what they believe needs to change. In fact, we probably have as many different ways of 'thinking' and 'behaving' as there are issues to be dealt with. To my mind this is a positive thing.

However, I have noticed recently that some groups, organisations and individuals spend a great deal of valuable time and energy trying to persuade others that 'their' way is the 'best' way, or the 'only' way. Or... that their 'issue' is the most important issue.

Surely this is counter productive? I don't think there is a 'best' way, or an 'only' way, or a 'most important' issue. There are many ways to effect change and many important things that need to change - and they are all equally important.

We are all just tiny little cogs in a huge giant wheel and it has NEVER been more important for us to work alongside each other..... to co-operate, to communicate, to support, to respect and honour our differences and to stop picking holes in each others belief systems. It's time for us to drop both individual and organisational ego. This is not a competition and there is absolutely no place for ego if we are to make headway.

So, whoever you are, and however you choose to 'Be The Change', remember that you are a wonderfully unique and amazing being…..so please, keep on doing what you do in your own special way!

Thank you for all that you do

B xxx


  1. yes :)

    we are all parts of a body, gestalt. I'm not a head, I'm a part of the arms, I'm not a person who can get others to follow I'm a helper of others who can, I have my own skills and I am in my department.

    and it is wonderful the work that I going on in the other departments.

    one body.

    and funny thing was I was thinking about what you said in this blog earlier today.

    bless you mother.


  2. I love that you have written this. I totally agree with you. I also came to the place where I realised I had to choose where to focus my energy in order to be effective, and that losing myself in the feeling of 'overwhelm' helped nothing and no one. So now I take responsibility for working in the way/s in which I am most effective, and I am endlessly grateful for all those who are doing the same. When someone says to me that they are doing something that is really important and I should be doing it too, I tell them that I am happy, relieved and grateful that they are taking charge of that area of need in the world, and they can relax in the knowing that I am taking care of my part too. Appreciating each other's differences, and different contributions is so important. Wasting energy battling between ourselves is just that - a waste of vital energy at this time.

  3. Pete....what a wonderful way to express that we are all a part of the whole. Thank you x

  4. "I am happy, relieved and grateful that they are taking charge of that area of need in the world, and they can relax in the knowing that I am taking care of my part too...."

    Thank you for sharing this Sue. With your permission I'm going to pinch your words next time someone tells me they are doing something really important and I should be doing it too! x

  5. What I loved about working in conservation was the fact that we did all work together. And now I'm in healthcare, and this week the Stroke, Heart disease and Alzheimer's charities are all meeting to ensure that there is consistency of message about the benefits of good physical health in reducing the risks of dementia. Activism has a part to play, but you are right Bee - all pulling together makes it possible for us to achieve great things. Let's hope we do it for the planet before it's too late.

    1. How wonderful that the Stroke, Heart disease and Alzheimer's charities are working together to make sure their message has consistency. Co-operation is definitely the key :)

  6. Absolutely well said Bridgit, I couldn't have put it better myself...

  7. yes Bee, i have finding myself almost buried under a pile of causes and i find fault with myself for not having the space or health to grow as much food as i would like. i have slowly come to realise that i cannot spread myself so thin and so have started to focus on what i can manage.

  8. Fergus Drennan3 March 2012 at 13:07

    Lovely post. Thanks for crafting it with so beautifully with such simple honesty and skill x

  9. One of the downsides of being involved with some green organisations that try to effect change locally is that you do tend to be pulled in lots of directions, especially in smaller groups where everyone is wearing multiple hats. I see this regularly in Transition Towns where the same faces appear time and time again at meetings, manning stands, working on projects, etc. In this case its probably worthwhile getting the group as a whole to do the same as you've done Brigit by stepping back, looking at where they can make the most impact/and or what their members are most passionate about and then focus on that. The difference between an organisation and an individual is that the organisation can grow new arms and minds by bringing other people into the team, so as numbers grow, so can the amount that is accomplished simultaneously.

  10. So well said Brigit my thing is parenting for social change but I also read about others passions and do what I can as a single person to support the people who do champion other important issues that arise from our disfuntional culture.

  11. I really like this post, and the comments, and recognise a lot of what you've said. I think some groups and organisations also stop other people getting involved (and therefore bringing fresh ideas and ways of doing things). They may not do this consciously (some may!) but it's the reason that you see the same faces at the same events and no one else can 'break through'. In my opinion one of the most important things that a group/organisation can do is regularly and actively recruit. And try new ways of doing so. Some will work, some won't. Also you avoid burnout for people who end up doing far too much.

    I was involved in a project where if you weren't part of the 'inner group' and therefore parroting what they said, they didn't want you involved and 'interfering'. I eventually left, pretty disgusted, and they are now involved in several other key groups, wielding too much power and influence and actively shutting people out, because they think only their voices are the ones worth hearing. Such a shame, and so wrong. To me that's not in the spirit of volunteering and making a difference.

    Cooperate and work in partnership, half the work, double the impact! I can't believe how many groups (in all areas of interest, not just environment, or in my example, community) do the same work, because nobody sent an email or picked up the phone and said, hey, we know you did some great work, can we use that and perhaps give you something in return?!

    And don't disparage or knock others, acccept that they too have passion and energy to make a difference. That makes them pretty good people in my eyes.

  12. Thank you so much for thus wonderful post. I totally agree, "different" doesn't mean "worse". Accepting other people's views and passions makes yoy learn and grow.

    1. Thank you so much for reading Claudia....and thank you for your comment too