Knowing and Living: An Inconvenient Truth

Coming from the “more north” of Ontario, visiting my brother and his family, I am feeling mentally recharged. Not in that way you get when you are ultra-relaxed though. I am more or less recharged because I have been reinvigorated in a larger sense.

Yes, my brother gave his slide-show of An Inconvenient Truth. Yes, it was eye-opening, even though I pay attention to every utterance about the environment, and almost primarily because of listening to so many podcasts. Harry Shearer’s Le Show has a copyrighted feature called “News of The Warm” that keeps on top of the most recent info about our crumbling planet. My brother did an incredible job, and commanded a hushed room of 25 people or so.

The presentation was yet another piece to this expanding interest in the vital signs of Earth for me. It was a reminder of the article in the New York Times Magazine, Why Bother? by Michael Pollan, which made a strong impact on me, almost calling me out for having been remiss to ACT. Applying Gandhi’s Ideas to Climate Change by Peter Applebome was another article in the New York times that made grand references to the differences between thinking something and acting on something.

I am in the first category primarily. I know the correct thing to do, but I often don’t go as far as I should. I find myself waffling in the face of adversity when it comes time to choose correctly for the planet, for the dignity of others, for the dignity of myself. These two articles had superb reminders in them, telling me to get my head in the right space. Do it because it is right. Do it because it is virtuous, even when doing things because they are virtuous is dropping out of style. Why bother? For yourself. Doing for yourself, in the greater sense of self, in turn, is actually doing for all, even when on a small scale, such as picking up trash while walking on a nature trail in northern Ontario (thanks Martha). We spend so much of our day, our relationships, our lives, taking, taking, taking…but if we’ve learned anything in science class, things must balance. It’s time to give back.

Jhoan and I at the rapids of the South River

Also, while on the 7-hour-drive home from the weekend trip, I listened to This American Life. The episode had a bit about Schindler’s List. A guy (a friend of the host who is involved in charity and philanthropic work) who watched this film, commented to the host (Ira Glass) that he did all the work he did, as taxing and time-consuming that it was, because he KNEW he was going to be like Schindler in the end of the film. He knew he would be asking why he didn’t sell his car, his watch, to get enough money to save more Jews. This man didn’t want to be thinking he could have done more.

I don’t want to be the regretful man who, lying on his deathbed is thinking, “I could have done more for others.” I want to do what is to be done. The nausea associated with being a failure, failing myself, no one else, is not an acceptable outcome, and I am geared to see that this life is more heavily geared toward giving.

The Zen Archery approach of intention meeting action is a wonderful way to look at the process from A) learning truth to B) living truth. And the funniest thing about these articles I mentioned is that I was gung-ho to introduce them to my brother Todd. I was thinking about it more like a useful tool, maybe a hand-out at future events or talks. But the irony of me giving a man whose entire family knows the truth and lives truth constantly was lost on me until writing this post. Todd and Martha have been beacons to me of how to live a low-impact life physically, and a high-impact life mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Hey brother, if you’re reading this, I get it! I know you know. I know you don’t need the info in those articles, but I thought it might help relay your message to people like me who need a bit of nudging from knowing to living truth.

Todd, Jhoan, and I

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