He was driving quietly, some might say he appeared to be a bit reticent but I’m always curious about people and their stories so I tossed it out there to see if I could start a conversation. “It’s kind of chilly today, where did that sun go?”
” Oh, I know! Oh, it was so warm last week, so nice to be out in, but so early in the year!”he said,furrowing his heavy brows and shaking his head.
And from that point on the conversation flowed. We talked about concern for the farmers this year if the blossoms opened too early, putting developing fruit at risk of a late frost. We talked about last summers heat, about how the weather is showing extremes in many areas. Big storms, drought,floods, heavy snow, no snow… the world is clearly experiencing some changes.
” Yes,” he said,shaking his head again,sadly this time:” But it is our fault you know,humans, all of us.”
We turned a corner then, literally and figuratively: “You see these big companies making big pollution.The smoke is streaming out of the stacks.We make it worse than it needs to be.”
I looked at him as he talked while driving. Maybe mid to late forties, long beard glossy and well groomed and a beautiful deep rich red turban.Very educated but driving a taxi nonetheless as far too many professionals with credentials seem to be doing in Surrey,thanks to the barriers of having those credentials recognized here in Canada.And if you want to know what’s going on in any city the cab drivers will be able to tell you. Where the dealers are, where the crack shacks are, who the players are. One driver even suggested to me once that RCMP should partner with taxi companies as eyes on the street.
But I digress.
I told him some people didn’t believe that humans have any impact on the earth at all and this is just a cycle we are going through as the earth has done in the past. He asked me what I thought, looking at me intently as we stopped at the light.
” I think the earth does have natural cycles of its own. But I think it’s very foolish to think humans have no impact on the earth. I think we owe it to ourselves and future generations to mitigate our impact whenever possible.”
He nodded in agreement. But then he said something that struck me deeply,not just for his words but for the expression on his face as he said them: “But I don’t know what we can do.People want to do something but we don’t know what we can do.Companies and governments are just doing as they please. I don’t know what will happen one day.It seems hopeless.”
We reached our destination and he pulled over as I paid. But I didn’t get out right away because he really looked so sad over this thought. And I didn’t want him to feel like it was hopeless because I don’t think it is.
” You know, there are a lot of people who feel like you do. People who want to make changes and people who are working for changes. Things can change.”
He looked forward over his steering wheel, shook his head as if he didn’t quite believe me and said: ” I hope so… one day.”
I thanked him for his time and conversation,closed the door and walked inside.But his comments and even more so, the expression on his face while he shared them with me,stayed with me long after his car drove off.
It speaks to the heart of why so many people do nothing and ironically our conversation echoed another I had recently with a woman I know.
She no longer watches the news because she feels bombarded with all this ‘stuff’ that’s wrong or bad. “You turn it off and are left with all these feelings but they never, ever tell you what to do to fix it. So I don’t watch anymore.It’s too much.”
It’s not because people don’t care that things don’t change. It’s because far too often, people just don’t know what to do and there is no one there to guide them. There is also still a tremendous social pressure in some circles that negates progressive conversations about ideas and solutions,which leads to further frustration.If you can’t even have the damn conversations… well that’s one way to squash any new ideas or new solutions!
I’m not afraid to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things and you shouldn’t be either. But when people see the pushback that happens for progressive voices- which is entirely intentional in order to keep the status quo-they worry. And then those who benefit the most from keeping things from changing win.
This applies to everything and is a big reason for the turmoil we see in politics, in policies and yes, even in our communities. This is why I’ve written so often,posts specifically intended to try and inspire people to get involved and even more importantly, how to get involved.
But I firmly believe we can change that. Sometimes it does take a bit of turmoil to sort things out and find a new way. We don’t have to leave all of the old behind – history provides critical lessons if we can actually learn from them. So open your mind and not just your ears. Ask questions-remember there are no stupid ones.I’m always happy to answer a few or tell you where you can find information. Have uncomfortable conversations and try to find the points where you both agree…and go from there. That’s where it starts. There is still more that binds us as a society, than separates us. Build on that.
We can’t,as communities or as leaders, go back and make a brand new start. But we can start from now and make a brand new ending.
“Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.”
― Joss Whedon