Recently I have been thinking about the short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin. It is a story about a Utopian society that relies on the misery of one child. Everyone in Omealas knows the child exists and understands that their happiness relies on the misery of that child. Some leave but most stay. It is, to me, an obvious analogy of our own lives. After watching The End of Poverty?, I am so aware of how much we do have. I often tell myself that trying to live sustainably, besides being hard and time consuming is simply too expensive. I am not rich, and organic, humanely raised food is expensive. Beyond the expense is the difficulty in ascertaining where my food actually comes from. The labels are so deliberately misleading.
Watching The End of Poverty? was in fact a real wake up call for me. I really have so much. So much that I find it difficult to find places to put everything, there is simply not enough room in my house. And I have come to realize that this stuff, these material goods have become like an anesthetic or a drug. My stuff keeps me sedated, keeps me locked into this self designed cage. It helps me tell myself the story that I don't have enough and I am incapable of changing society. It doesn't help me sleep, it keeps me unaware. Well, not really. I am aware, but I am still maintaining my position. As I try to find my way out, try to rethink a culture and society I have been born into and contribute to the existence of, I find myself tangled in conversations I don't have the answers for. Both with myself and with others.
I feel like the young child who wakes before the rest of the family. Although I am trying to be awake without bothering anyone else, it is just too difficult. The silence is too uncomfortable and the life of what I know just wants to continue spreading.
So here I am, pondering not why the world is so unjust, but rather my own privilege and how I continue to allow the injustice. How I actually benefit from the way the world is structured. How my own ego and need to feel accomplished have been defined by the wrong measure. And of course, the hardest thoughts of all: What am I going to do about it? What am I willing to change?
For me, I guess working from the environmental road has been the easiest. However, there isn't one road. None of this work can be done in isolation. Equity, environment, humanity - our own -my own humanity are deeply connected.