One eye on the future: how that looks for me in practice
Yesterday, I talked about living fully in the present, but with one eye on the future.By that I mean with an awareness of how the decisions and actions I take today will affect the world for future generations. It’s complicated, I know that, and because of that, it’s often easier to be vague and not give any specifics. But today, I thought I’d share with you what that looks like for me in practice.
I am far from perfect and this is of course not a definitive list. Just see it as food for thought.
Keep it simple, keep it happy
I am not always happy and life is not always simple. But there are small, simple pleasures every single day. When I look back over the day, there is always a long list of things to be grateful for in that day. I’m not suggesting we pretend, that we fake it, but it’s a question of attitude. Developing a positive perspective, ditching the moaning and criticising and negativity.
This is the best way for me to live.
I want to live in a world where everyone is treated equally and with respect, whilst recognising and celebrating diversity. If this is what I want to see, then this is what I have to model. I love that x ray of two humans kissing: you can’t see gender or race or religion or disability or anything else, just two humans kissing. Everything else is stripped away and all you’re left with is two human souls expressing love. Nothing else matters.
This is what I need to be teaching my children by the way I interact with other people I bump into on my path.
Eat less meat
I really enjoy meat, but I cannot get away from the fact that the amount of meat that’s eaten is depleting the world’s resources and causing unnecessary suffering for countless animals.
I’m not vegetarian, but I’m heading in the right direction. I started by cutting out beef and eating more eggs and fish. Now I’m just going to try to eat meat just once a week on a Sunday. I’m taking it slowly, because this is a challenge for me, but a worthwhile challenge if its going to make a difference to the sustainability of the planet: not me alone, obviously, but as more and more of us reach the same conclusion.
Be less wasteful of the world’s resources and my own resources
It’s always so tempting to keep replacing things, usually just because I’m just bored with what I have. I’m trying to move away from this – which basically means keeping away from the shops unless I really need something. It’s all too tempting otherwise.
I love to buy secondhand – clothes from charity shops, books from stalls, furniture from adverts….I love that sense of reusing. I recycle as much as possible and buy recycled where I can. I like to pass things on too, rather than just chucking them in the bin.
I have a house full of things that are not getting used. I don’t need to keep buying more. I’m attracted by the notion of minimalism: less is more. I’m getting there.
Consider what I buy: be a conscious consumer
This ties in with all of the above. Respect for the individual will include buying fair trade. Compassion for animals will draw us to organic, RSPCA assured, responsibly sourced. Thinking of the environment will affect our choices in the household cleaning aisles.
If my values are not reflected in the contents of my shopping trolley, then they’re not really values at all.
Being prepared to share what I have
The poor will always be with us. Jesus said that. He wasn’t wrong. The poor will always be with us because the greedy will always be with us. People don’t want to share. We’re taught to share as children but as adults, we soon forget. We deserve what we have. We’ve earned it. We should not be expected to share.
Sharing is how life on earth is sustainable though. There is enough of everything to go round, if some of us were more modest in our consumption and shared with those who had none – water, fuel, food, land, housing etc…
Showing hospitality was one of the big things God expected of His people in the Old Testament. Because it matters,. Opening our homes and sharing meals with others. Sharing our time and families with the lonely.
Campaign: don’t look the other way
This is the area I struggle with the most. Staying informed, having a voice, campaigning for what is right. I have a husband who is great on politics and current affairs – he’s even standing for the Green Party at the General Election. Not that that should be an excuse for me to do nothing, but living closely with him does prove to me that we are all different and all approach life and need and injustice in different ways.
I guess for me, it does boil down to ‘Don’t look the other way’. That can be a very personal response in daily life or a massive act in the political arena – and everything in between.
Embrace post-conventional wisdom for myself
The world is teaching us to live in a certain way. We’re brought up in a certain way. That’s conventional wisdom.
You have to understand that before you can move beyond it. Some of it is good and worth keeping, of course it is. The rules that keep us safe and healthy, for example.
But when Jesus came, he said ‘You have heard this…But I tell you…’ He moved beyond conventional wisdom to a better way – not an easier way, actually a more demanding way, but a more life-giving way.
It involves swimming against the tide.
Buying fair trade rather than buying the cheapest.
Buying homegrown instead of clean and beautifully packaged.
Learning to walk away from that dress in the shop that’s calling out to you.
Finding something else to do with leisure time rather than shopping.
Not buying the most expensive trainers because that’s what everyone else has.
Becoming an expert in creating delicious meals out of leftovers.
Not becoming a slave to Instagram inadequacy and Facebook comparisons.
Seeing the best in everyone.
And so much more!
This is what I want to teach my kids. I want to take what they’ve learnt out and about in the world and challenge it and show them a different way. I want to model a different way.
My dad used to constantly ask me ‘What are you teaching your children?’ It used to annoy me, if I’m honest. But now I realise that my children are watching and learning from me. They have done their whole lives. They’re young adults now and making their own decisions. They’ll be having their own children soon and teaching them by their example how to live in the world.
Don’t ever think that the choices you make about how you live your life don’t matter and don’t make any difference.
Each one of us is creating a legacy in everything that we do and say. A legacy for the planet. A legacy for future generations.
Let us not fail the future.