There’s something much bigger and more important than plugging a car into solar energy: The pressing need for us – all of us — to commit to a truly sustainable lifestyle.
Our future hinges on our ability to do this. If we collectively find a way to live sustainably, we – and the incredible contemporary biological diversity of the Beautiful Blue Planet we call home – will make it. If we do not, we won’t.
Plenty of roadblocks stand in the way of our path to achieving a truly sustainable global society. The biggest of these: Those among us who refuse to acknowledge that our way of life is destroying the world we live in, and us along with it.
The often quite loud presence of this large group of people can profoundly discourage me – sometimes to the point where I just want to give up.
But then I’m reminded I am not alone, that it’s not me, by myself, against the deniers. I am re-awakened to the fact that there is another group of people, also quite large, and growing louder each day, who see that we need to radically transform the way we live our lives.
This periodic re-awakening – which I often realize when I’m doing a feature story about an individual for SolarChargedDriving.Com – helps me to keep my personal sanity.
Today, as is often the case, something other than a SolarChargedDriving.Com feature story inspired this re-awakening: An interactive symposium I attended called “Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream of the Modern World.”
Originally inspired by a push by indigenous Amazonian people to awaken the North to the enormous damage it was — and still is — incurring upon the earth and all of the life forms which inhabit it, Awakening the Dreamer has turned into a global movement which seeks to wake the world up to the radical importance of living in harmony with the earth.
Its mission is both simple and profound: “Bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on Planet Earth.”
About 50 people attended the same symposium I did at First Universalist Church in Denver. Colo. on a beautiful, perfectly blue-sky early fall Colorado day. About two-thirds were from the Unitarian Universalist Church my family and I recently joined and which sponsored the symposium, Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church. The other third were from other UU churches, were environmental activists, or were simply people who care deeply about the environment.
Depressing facts – but an inspiration to act
The symposium seeks to awaken participants to the significance of environmentally and socially just living and to inspire them to act on this (re)awakening. The day-long event interweaves video with lecture and interactive group activities.
Much of the early information and analysis it exposes you to is, quite frankly, depressing. However, by the time you finish the symposium, you are inspired to take on the local and global environmental challenges facing the world.
While some of the messages sent might seem clichéd – for instance, “we can all make a difference” – they are delivered in such a way that they at least partially manage to transcend cliché. For example, participants are encouraged to look at global issues through the lens of their own experience and (in)action.
Hearing other people talk about the seemingly small – cynics might say meaningless – individual actions they have taken to improve the world, recycling, turning off lights at home, turning down the thermostat, adding solar to their home, biking more and driving less, etc., clearly illustrates that individual actions do matter because they add up to larger, collective action.
Participants don’t just hear from each other, they hear from a variety of well-known social and environmental activists, among them Van Jones (The Green Collar Economy), John Robbins, and Thomas Berry in the Awakening the Dreamer video. Additionally, trained facilitators lead the symposium, in our case UU Minster Ellen Johnson-Fay and Ann Grant Martin of Grant Family Farms.
‘We can be the change agents’
The end result, at least in my case: Renewed inspiration to change the world for the better and, just as important, the comfort of knowing you are not alone in your quest to do so.
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The specific form your personal action to change the world takes – “We can be the change agents” is one of Awakening the Dreamer mantras – doesn’t matter. It can range from cutting back on your consumption of meat, or water, or electricity, to putting solar on your home, to buying more local produce. It can be individual action, or it can be collective action. The important thing is that you take some action.
As Martin Grant put it near the end of our symposium, “Our advice: Don’t wait. You can start big or you can start small. Just start!”
For more information on Awakening The Dreamer, go to: http://awakeningthedreamer.org/
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