by Hélène Montpetit

By now, most of us are aware that some elements of our lifestyles hurt the environment and may even go against the justice, equality and freedom we prize.

On an individual level, it is often vastly more convenient to disregard our values. So, if you go to the trouble of shopping ethically, thank you. If you walk, bike or car pool instead of driving everywhere, thank you. If you don’t replace your electronics every time a new model comes out, thank you. Each one of your choices contributes to creating important changes in how the world currently works. It really does begin with you.

Conscious living and well-being

Meme by
Meme by

In the West, those of us taking part in what is routinely termed the rat race survive with whatever status our jobs afford us, a couple weeks’ vacation every year and a modicum of financial security. In exchange, we face ruthless competition from our peers to help replenish the coffers of the wealthy and powerful while barely making ends meet ourselves, all the while allowing our personal worth to be defined by markets. As Noam Chomsky so aptly put it, all of this is “…antihuman and intolerable in the deepest sense.”[1]

To use an Orwellian analogy, the pigs have taken over the farm[2] and for the rest of us, things aren’t looking so good. In October, the World Health Organization estimated that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. That should come as no surprise, since the UN Refugee Agency reported last June that the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million and the World Food Program estimates that one in every nine people in the world does not have sufficient food to sustain a healthy, active life.

All this begs the question: if our current social model fails to support the health and well-being of most of the people of the world, why do we keep adhering to its dictates?

Conscious living and community

The Sweet Songs posts on this site prove that there are alternatives and that it is within our power to multiply them. Our social fabric is made out of a myriad of relationships between individuals and groups. The actions of these individuals and groups create our reality. What kind of world would we inhabit if each of our actions supported kindness, solidarity, cooperation, concern and sympathy for others instead of money, power, status and ruthlessness?

Living consciously allows us to make those choices, to behave in ways that promote our personal well-being, and by extension, to maintain healthier relationships. Does it not follow that whole communities of healthy people enjoying good relationships should yield a more forgiving world?

Not utopia

As a pragmatic idealist, I firmly believe that by modeling and honouring humanity’s best qualities, we can do better. It really does begin with each of us. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to keep improving how we share space and resources and how we treat each other at every level of relationship. It isn’t easy but it may be the most important and meaningful thing we can do with our time and our lives.

[1] Chomsky, Noam, “Interpreting the World” in The Chomsky Reader (New York, Pantheon Books, a Division of Random House, 1987), p. 153.

[2] In his novel Animal Farm, Orwell depicts animals successfully taking over management of the farm on which they have been working. Their revolution subsequently devolves into worse conditions for them as the pigs gradually take control and lord it over them.

Thank you for reading. Please do not hesitate to use the comment section below to share your thoughts, the personal choices you make to bring about positive change, or your ideas concerning the most important changes you feel should be made at this time.