Sometimes in our lives, we flip through certain chapters of our stories wishing we could rewrite them; certain events we look back on and think “If only that never happened”. And if we weren’t directly affected, we say “That was quite disastrous”. It could be something you discovered about your loved one that you wish you never knew, the day you spent your entire savings changing your wardrobe and missed out on a travel opportunity or a rash decision to dye your hair into a colour that eventually hindered you from getting your dream job. We all look back at one thing or the other and think “If only”. One big detail of our lives that I often wish I never came across is the devastating state of our environment. The fact that the human race has been inflicting severe torture on the planet is not the real issue. But that despite the devastating effects that our actions and inactions will have on the planet and the billions of persons living in it, most people often argue that it’s not their problem.
THE PLANET NEEDS YOU
I’ve heard it all; the different excuses here and there. From the woman next door claiming that this is an issue that only concerns the western world, to the colleague at school saying that it’s too late to change anything, I simply cannot but feel sad and hopeless about the situation because I feel my impact is not big enough. But I try my best not to give up despite the array of pitiful responses it evokes all around. Giving up is not the mature thing to do, more so because as a Muslim, I have a duty to protect this planet. We all do. Climate change is scary. It’s pretty big too. And it needs the entire world to come together to help put things back in order – from that stay at home mum you know to the biggest corporations in the world who would do anything to make their shareholders’ money. Doing the right thing and doing it together is the only way out of thrashing the planet and destroying the future of the coming generations as a consequence. There are things we can do – little things on our part. We are not expected to save the world single-handedly. We are only expected to do what we can.
GET THE BALL ROLLING
You definitely can’t make this journey on your own – you’ll need some other people too. Whether you know each other already or recently met at an event, coming together to do something great is the only way forward. You may start by discussing what the problem is and why you should work together to solve it. You can also move on to raising awareness and establishing networks and partnerships in your local communities. You may hold a launch event on different themes and seize the opportunity to invite membership of an emergent working group. Some people would definitely suggest that this is a utopian vision, something unattainable and abstract, so try to filter through the groups of people within your reach and engage your allies. You can do this by classifying them. There are some who are aware and active, sharing your analysis and urgency and are eager to do something about it. Some are Aware but inactive, they don’t quite know what to do about it. Some are just in between, not really bothered about it while some are totally uninterested. Ultimately, there are those who will disagree with your initiative and subject it to a public debate. Just be aware and do not be deterred.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO JOIN YOU
Oftentimes, we find in our media, some contradictory and confusing messages about what’s happening in the world. A story about a fatal flood may appear side by side with another on the same page of a magazine or newspaper; one questioning and addressing climate change and the other advocating an ordeal vacation. One of the best ways you can help is by helping others make sense of the situation and inspiring them to join you in taking action. This can take a wide range of forms such as encouraging local action in each person’s area of interest – energy, food, education, fashion, buildings, parenting, arts and creativity, businesses and jobs, recycling and waste management, football, parties, events and what have you. You can also think about organizing events to raise awareness that can appeal to each group. Events can be celebratory, engaging, informatory, thought-provoking or even all of these together. Some people understand things by listening attentively and applying principles in their daily actions. While others learn better by practice, such as “GREEN SKILLS” (linktr.ee/greenskills) founded to bring together, enlighten and train young Nigerians on the importance of organic and sustainable farming both in their lives and to the economy of the country. The good news also is that there is an emergence of a number of supermarkets serving the middle-income population by stocking a broader supply of organic farm produce with lower consumer prices, thereby supporting small scale farmers including urban ones.
MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
Of the many TED talks that have been aired, the one by Jason Roberts from Oak Cliff in Dallas remains memorable. He started something called “BETTER BLOCK” and began transforming public spaces without waiting for permission. He stated that if you actually want to carry out a successful project, you need these four powerful tips:
Keep putting yourself forward, offering your energy, investing your time
Always figure out a way to make things better for those around you, especially your community
NAME YOUR PROJECT
When you name an initiative, you give it an identity and create something to be proud of. Be sure to choose names that contain a self fulfiling prophecy.
SET A DATE
Challenge yourself. Set a deadline. Tell yourself “We’re doing this in 90 days”. This is because tight time-frames keep the mind focused and minimizes the potential for backing out.
CELEBRATE AND REFLECT
It takes guts to start a project and implement great new changes. So be proud of yourself. Most of us have our eyes on the prize and all we do is continue to strive to get there. In this process, we fail to recognize the little milestones we encounter along the way. Take a moment and relax. Recall all the important events that have taken place on your journey, celebrate them and reflect on the lessons learnt.
- How Muslims are thrashing the planet by doing nothing right by Arwa Aburawa and Donna Francis Stacy – SISTERS MAGAZINE, Issue 56
- The Power of Just Doing Stuff by Rob Hopkins – Founder of the Transition Movement