While information has never before been so accessible, the strange truth of the matter is that most of know of the global problems that plague the world, not in own communities.
We source all our information from the media, the newspapers and our social media feeds. We’ve restricted ourselves to get all our information and knowledge from the electronic boxes we carry around with us or have in our homes, whether that’s our televisions, smartphones or computers.
Some might say that many of us are having trouble looking outside the box.
Thanks to hyper-connected state that the world is currently in, whereas in the past we would share our opinions and thoughts with the people in our social circles and our local communities, nowadays we can befriend and interact with like-minded people, regardless of where they are in the world yet this has caused notable problems with society.
Segregation is rife.
Whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook or even in your group chats on WhatsApp, the vast majority of society has blocked out — or completely dismissed — people that don’t agree with their own values and beliefs, but when these parties inevitably collide, it has catastrophic — often violent — consequences.
No matter where you look in the world, whether it’s democratically, such as Left versus Right parties, the UK with their Leave or Stay parties over Brexit, globally-operating companies versus small businesses, or gun-enthusiasts versus anti-gun laws, division has become a core element in global culture. The list is seemingly infinite.
But, this is all common knowledge and the effects of these problems are broadcast to us every single day.
I was recently browsing Twitter and came across a UK Conservative Party post that was asking for votes in the May by-elections. Casually, I decided to browse the comment section which I discovered was overflowing with negativity.
“Higher taxes, worse services, that’s what my Conservative council delivers!”
“You’ve decimated our services, cut funding to crucial sectors, and you have the cheek to ask for votes?!”
“You make our country poorer, weaker, and more irrelevant on the global stage.”
These were just some of the comments listed. Some were notably more graphic posts than the ones I’ve referenced here. In total, out of the 93 comments that were posted during the two hours since the post was uploaded, not a single one had a positive context.
I’m not saying that these comments aren’t true. I can’t be certain. There were a lot of topics being thrown around, much of which was seemingly regurgitated from the media and tabloid headlines, but it did get me thinking.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. Writing a comment on a democratic Twitter post is not going to change anything. In fact, the more I thought about, the more I believed it’s one of the most unproductive things you can do. I tried to envision myself as one of the commenting individuals.
You’re scrolling through your feed, and you see a post that you dislike. You immediately start jabbing at your keyboard to type out your message, hitting the send button out of anger and hatred for the content you’re seeing.
You then proceed to sit and think about the topic, perhaps browsing some more media posts that have been curated to suit your side of the argument which is, in turn, uploaded to the pages you follow, furthering your aggressive thoughts. Over the course of several weeks or months, you fall into a vicious cycle of getting frustrated, venting your anger on social media and so on.
The rest of the world seems to collapse around you, and you start to feel utterly alone, bar the media outlets and online groups of people that have the same feelings as you.
It’s safe to say this is not a healthy way to live.
So, I thought some more.
With so much segregation in the world, the only way the world can become a better place is if a global culture is developed. One where everybody can have their own thoughts, feelings and beliefs, but are free from judgement and we can truly be ourselves.
If we’re not happy with ourselves, but are instead fuelling our rage and anger, we’re feel forced into venting online because it would be inappropriate to do in the real world, then the world is never going to be a better place.
Brene Brown, the author of Braving the Wilderness, says it best;
“We are complex beings who wake up every day and fight against being labelled and diminished with stereotypes and characterizations that don’t reflect our fullness. Yet when we don’t risk standing on our own and speaking out, when the options laid before us force us into the very categories we resist, we perpetuate our own disconnection and loneliness. When we are willing to risk venturing into the wilderness, and even becoming our own wilderness, we feel the deepest connection to our true self and to what matters the most.”
This might sound like an idealistic world, one that couldn’t possibly fabricate in our lifetimes. I don’t blame you for thinking this way. There’s so much hate, anger and isolation in this world. Millions of children die every year from drinking dirty water.
On the other side of the world, children attend school every day while running the risk of never returning home. War ravages families and countries all over the world in pursuits of money and resources. Mental conditions such as depression and anxiety have reached epidemic levels. Huge companies are destroying natural environments and decimating species in all corners of the globe while chasing profits. The undeniable symptoms of climate change are starting to show their vicious and deadly faces.
But what can we do?
As an individual, it’s easy to feel powerless. I used to be so caught up in current affairs and the state of the world that it led me to wake up full of feelings of despair for the human race. Surely the world would be a better place if we didn’t inhabit it?
I had a realization.
All the tools that the human race would ever need are right here in front of us. However, to explain this concept more clearly, let’s imagine the entire world is fixed inside the slide of a microscope, placed carefully between two sheets of glass and then inserted into on the stage.
Let’s venture in;
X0 — The Earth
Suspended in space, you’ll see the entire planet, the Blue Marble, the globe. From here, all you can see is clouds, landmass and ocean. Everything is peaceful. On the horizon, you can see satellites whizzing around in their orbits at thousands of miles an hour.
You turn the dial one notch to the left.
X4 — Continents
There are seven continents in total — six if you’re counting landmasses. Each one is home to dozens of countries, over 7.6 billion people and countless other species of wildlife and living organism.
Still, from this level, everything seems calm and collected.
Of course, hurricanes and storms may be seen from some parts of the world, but this is only natural. In the Northern Hemisphere, you can see the Aurora glimmering across the upper limits of the atmosphere.
If you’re at the right angle, you can see thousands of planes and bird migrations crossing the oceans and seas.
You turn the dial again.
X10 — Countries
Each country becomes a lot more divided. In some parts of the world, there are physical walls, whether they are man-made or towering, seemingly impassable, mountain ranges.
You can see forests, cities, and the dots of tiny town and rural villages.
A vast road network connects these settlements, as do pipelines and power grids. As the sun crosses the horizon, the ground lights up as the cities start up their artificial versions of day. The resulting glow can be seen from space.
X400 — Towns & Cities
Here you can see the human settlements in much more detail.
In the built-up areas, you can see tower blocks and skyscrapers. You see endless road networks, filled with cars, lorries and buses. Crowds of people aren’t people, but rather clothed masses that flow in an orderly fashion out of shops, restaurants and train stations.
Outside the cities, in the smaller towns and rural areas, fields stretch on for miles, full of wheat, rapeseed and other food crops. Power lines stretch for hundreds of miles, over hedgerows and forestland, only veering off to connect a town or village. Here, the buildings are much more spread out, still containing shops and cafes, the countryside scattered with villages and individual houses.
You turn the dial one final time.
X800 — You
You see yourself. You’re laying in bed, sitting in your kitchen or on your sofa, travelling to work, or at your desk in your office. You could be watching a film eating takeaway with your loved ones, at a bar with friends, sleeping next to your partner, or playing with your pets.
You get up every morning, have breakfast, go to work, go the gym, go for walks, browse social media and read books. You might go on holiday, start your own business, enjoy a hobby, such as painting or photography or you might attend concerts or go to the cinema.
You are the foundation of everything.
Feel free to explore each level of magnification as you please.
If we share a common aim of bringing together society and creating a better future for ourselves, the other inhabitants of the world and all other future generations that come after us, we have to realize that all change starts with us as individuals.
Governments are in operation, charities and organizations do their best to make the world a better place, but instead of venting out, shouting and screaming our aggression and our differences to a world that isn’t listening, we need to start making a change in the real world.
It’s time to start having the important conversations with our loved ones, friends and neighbors about what we can do to make the world a better place. These aren’t always going to be easy conversations, don’t get me wrong.
My parents see me as some kind of hippy activist who hugs trees and listens to whale music, and they’re uncomfortably left-wing for my liking. However, I accept their opinions and beliefs, as they accept mine, and we still help each other out in times of need. They are still my family, and we can still love each other, regardless of what we believe.
When I talk about making change, I’m not just talking about environmental issues and saving the planet. Of course, this is a huge part of it, but you’re never going to make real change when the leading mental disabilities in the world is depression and anxiety.
Without a sense of community and togetherness in the real world, change will be impossible.
Think about your typical day to day life. When you get up, when you go to work, when you watch the TV, what sort of conversations are you having with the people around you?
Are you discussing problems that are affecting the whole microscope slide? Perhaps even x4, or x10 settings? While they are still essential topics worth discussing — education through engagement with our world is a necessity — how often are you asking the people around you how they are? Are you talking to strangers and asking if they’re okay?
Are there people in your own community that need help? Are they using food banks? Are they lonely?
Consider causes that are relatively small on the grand scale of things, like litter problems in your local town, the food choices in your local schools, the society in which your children are growing up.
What is the condition of your immediate environment?
Small changes like this can create a butterfly effect that can affect the world.
Take a look at the recent school shootings in the United States. The survivors of the Douglas High School shooting rallied on the 17th February 2018 in Florida. It was attended by hundreds of students who were standing up for what they believe in, demanding real change.
Using social media as a tool and the media as an aid, this sparked marches to take place across the country less than a month later of the 14th March, known as the Enough! National School Walkout in which over a million students and parents participated in the protest events.
Across the other side of the world, a group of Palestinian women based in Gaza have opened the first ever woman’s yoga studio in this territory to help women who have been affected by the violence and death that has engulfed the country for the last 11 years, enabling them to create a sense of community and release the stresses that have become such a huge and unavoidable part of their everyday lives.
Up near the very tip of human population, in Canada’s Yukon territories, a small community of 245–300 people have successfully tested a new 11.8 kilowatt solar plant, with plans for a 330 kilowatt plant in the near future — allowing them to offset their oil usage by as much as 98,000 liters a year — proving to the rest of the world that solar power plants can be installed, while maintaining effectiveness, in areas of the world where sunlight isn’t always available, defying the commonly accepted opinion.
Finally, back in March 2018, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao-places traditionally-renowned for being the tourist hot-spots of Thailand — have started the process of banning activities that could cause further damage to the environment and the wildlife of that area, including completely banning visits and anchoring in coral reefs and banning wastewater from entering the oceans and protected areas.
What do all these events that have happened in March have in common?
Although social media hashtags movements, the news and the internet have played a role in communicating the message and increasing awareness of their causes, the real foundations of these movements come from the people living in their local areas and being proactive in making real change.
They are coming together to work together, using the sense of community to start creating, organizing and implementing plans to make the world a better place.
This is a logic that can be applied to all areas of life and human culture and then, and only then, can we start to create a better, more beautiful future for us all.
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