Posts tagged ‘better world’

June 4, 2017

Hang in there

Over 15 years of depression and PTSS and since about a year, I am finally able to watch the news again without shutting down. I am finally recovered and I manage to go through life in a way that could be considered healthy. It is like stepping out of a bubble and to be frank: It is scary as hell. First I was scared about what it meant to be considered healthy, then I was scared to fall back, and then I slowly turned back on the news channels, daily newspaper, actually clicking the links to articles, reading about attacks, hatred, torture, pollution, the sadness, the demolishment, the exclusion.

Then there are these discussion going on in my head, about what the world needs to become a better place, about how to make people aware of the consequences of their actions. The discussion about what actually is good and bad and the acknowledgment that there is no human to make that decision, and so on… Discussions that I have had over and over again for way longer than those 15 years.

I can hardly think of solutions that do not include accepting that what I feel might be the right thing to do at this point, might turn out to be the absolutely wrong thing in the long run. However, I am convinced that it is better to try to take action instead of absorbing all these dark stories, dark headlines and dark feelings and just sit here at home on the couch crying, or lay awake at night, overthinking these troubles.

I always tried to keep supporting those in need, even when I was in my darkest days, no matter the species, nor their specifics. I know the lonely. I know the hate. I know the ready to give up. And I know it is worth to keep fighting. Because between all the scary headlines, I read all the messages of people who just cannot understand the horror. I see the love all these species can give and receive. I see the warmth and the hope hiding behind the despair and the fear.

So here I sit, after a major episode of crying over forgotten abducted school girls, bombings and attacks, demolished forests and (near) extinctions of their inhabitants and dying relatives of relatives (and so on). I sit here, writing this, and I wonder what it is I really want to say. Do I want to say “hang in there, it will get better”? Do I want to say “I know what you are going through, you are not alone”? Or do I want to say “You have the power to change some of it, no matter how small, your actions count”? Well, I guess, I want to say all of that.

So here I go: Hang in there, it will get better because you have the power to change some of it. No matter how small, your actions count. I know what you are going through, or at least I can relate to a part of it and you know what, you are not alone. There is no honor in complaining about how bad any situation is unless it is for the sake of you getting back on your feet, gathering your power to fight your personal demons, or the demons of the world. We cannot oversee the consequences of our actions over the long run, however, there is science that can help us to try to make good decisions and then there is respect and being open minded, so we won’t start to radicalize our ideas and think we are better than anyone else. Everyone makes mistakes. If that happens, well, complain a bit, get back on your feet and start trying to make this world a better place again.

Today, I want to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Tomorrow, I will continue my quest. Feel free to join me on this adventure.

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September 5, 2016

Enough? Right? Wrong?

Last summer I went on a little trip to Austria with Remco. As we drove through Germany, there were stops for toilet breaks and food. At one of those stops, I saw a man fishing plastic bottles out of the trash cans. Remco and I started talking about what might be the reason behind this. Somehow we could not figure out if this was an act of a man who was trying to collect his food for the day, someone who was doing something for a better environment or a worker at the parking place. What I did observe was the looks on people’s faces as they passed by and it made me feel bad. Very bad. I had the feeling people looked at this person disparagingly.

I had to walk back to the car and as I passed the man a second time, I was trying to figure out a way to acknowledge him as a human being, his value as a human being, and hopefully give him some joy for this day. I remembered I still had some toilet discount tickets and so did Remco. I collected his as well and walked up to the man. “Can I offer you these?” I asked him, waving the tickets. He smiled. He said thanks. He straightened his back. I wished him a good day and walked off, back to the shop, to get coffee. All I could think on my way back to the shop, was: “I have not done enough”, “I should have invited him for coffee”, “I should’ve listened to his story if he would have been willing to share it with me”. And then I hated myself for these thoughts. Who said this man needed my help? Was my help pitying him, dehumanizing him just as much as the looks on the other people’s faces? As I sat down at the restaurant I cried.

As a person who always wants to do the right thing, always wants to help out others, always searches for ways to make the world a better place, I often get stuck. I never have the feeling that it is enough. I never have the feeling that I am doing enough, giving away enough, caring enough. I wonder if I do the right things and if it is not just my arrogance to think I can actually make a change in a person’s life. I struggle with the question if I should even blog about things I do. Yes. Doing good makes me feel better, but to be honest, most of the time it makes me feel desperate or sad just as much.

I believe that if I act from the heart, at least I should have some peace of mind; Maybe I am actually helping someone out. Maybe I am actually doing something good for this world or giving an animal a chance to live by my actions. I do not know the answer to a very substantial question: What is good and what is bad at the end of the day? Is it even possible to answer this question at all? How can we know the way our actions influence the future? How can we really know what is important in life beside our own values, beside the things others teach us to value?

How can I judge someone with an entirely different childhood, who grew up in a different culture, with different values? How would my values be any better than anyone else’s? This question is obviously not new. I am just writing down my personal struggle, not a new discovery of any kind.

I did learn one important lesson that day. During the conversation with Remco, he convinced me that sometimes paying attention to someone is enough, and paying attention can be positive, no matter what the situation or background of the situation. That, however big someone’s problems are, another person cannot always be, nor doesn’t have to necessarily be, the solution. Treating people as you would like to be treated yourself, trying to treat people as human beings, respect nature, our planet and try to avoid damaging it, that is what I can do. I hope that one day I can learn to have peace with the actions I take. I hope one day I will think to myself: I did enough this time. Even if it is mere ignorance. Even if it is the truth. One day I hope I will have the feeling that I did enough. That I actually helped someone along his or her path in a meaningful way. But you can never really know, can you?

In the meantime, I will just follow my heart. Do what I can in the hope that I will help some people along their paths and in the hope it means something.

July 21, 2016

Revolution Island

There was a time, when I dreamed of a world where everything was candy and play. I must have been young, very young. I fantasized about that world on a regular basis. My biggest real life concerns were the small amount of candy that I could obtain and avoiding the bullies. So I hid in my fantasy world and slowly added everything I loved to it. It was sunny, but chocolate would not melt there. People were happy and gentle and could actually fly (The knack [of flying] lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. (Douglas, A. (1978). The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy)). Space travel was available to anyone, without serious risks, of course.

That “fantasy” world is something I always kept in my heart. As I grew to the person I am now, not only the “real” world and the real world concerns changed, also my fantasy world changed. There is a funny thing to growing in age, into a world of obligations and the feel of lack of choice at some points. At least, for me. I never actually stopped dreaming. I never actually said goodbye to my fantasy world and my dreams of space travel and flying. Somewhere in my heart, I still believe that one day I will explore the universe and encounter worlds and species far beyond any imagination. Somewhere I believe that there are parallel universes and one day I will travel between those universes – without causing any cracks or harm of course. But.. I am drifting off. That is not what I wanted to write about. Well.. partly…

When I look around me these days. My heart gets filled with concerns and my soul hurts. The bullies of my childhood have become world leaders, though I prefer to give them the name of world managers, they are no leaders to me. The lack of candy has become a lack of peace, love, respect and (bio)diversity. I see huge risks occurring without seeing an out. Without seeing realistic mitigation measures (see, grown-up speech) that I can actually set in motion and more and more I feel the need to hide away in my fantasy world to not see the horror and terror of every day earthly life, even if it was for just one day.

There are days when my fantasy world feels a spark. It feels the possibility of actually starting to exist in what we call real life. And it is beautiful. It happens every now and then, that a friend of mine says or writes something about starting a new world, on an island mostly, where there is respect, love, peace, (bio)diversity and thus no war, no terror, no oppression. My fantasy world sees that, or hears that, and starts to grow. What if…

Of course there are many studies and experiments about how people live together and interact with each other. There is even a Dutch television program called Utopia, about people starting their own little world. Mostly the results aren’t pretty. But I refuse to let go of my hopes and dreams. Those studies are a real life things and they do not belong in my fantasy world. Not that science has no place there, it does. But I refuse to give up on my hopes and dreams based on real life science in this case. So, how to set up this world where everybody is welcome, but we do not need police, military or government? How to set up a world where there is plenty of space for love and peace and people and animals and diversity?

Seeing more and more people wanting this, searching for a place to run away to and hide, or maybe to run away to and from there start the new revolution, I am more and more thinking: Why not? Why not start an investigation on how to actually get this done. On how to buy an island, set up a crowdfunder and invite people who can add to this idea and are willing to put the energy into it. And then I thought, well, if I am going to investigate this, what better place to start than a Facebook group. A group of people who are willing to investigate with me and who are seriously interested in starting this revolution. So. Here it is. (Click) You can join if you want to. Just let us know what you can add, what you want to share on Island Revolution. The island where we will find respect, peace, and where we will (re)create biodiversity as well as possible. Even if it never grows beyond existing only in our imagination, let’s do this. Are you in?

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February 23, 2016

The Better World

Yesterday a (guest) blog was published on Thebetterworld.org. The better world is an inspirational blog about the daily improvements we can all make to turn this earth into a better place. I want to invite you to head over to this blog and read it. More important, I want to invite you to join the challenge that is mentioned in the blog: 10 days for a better world! Are you ready?

Read the full blog here.

Some short bits and pieces extracted from the blog:

” … she liked me for who I was and therefore, was a good friend! A while ago, we ‘found’ each other again on Facebook and since then, I’ve seen her do so much awesome ‘better world’-stuff… ”

“In her letter, she first describes being hesistant about writing about ‘doing good stuff’, a feeling I recognize. Every blog post is a struggle ….”

” I hereby want to restart this little challenge. And yes, it is just a little challenge. It is just 10 days of small social actions. The 10 days is just a number of course. If you want to make that – like I try – into a life long habit, that is perfectly fine. I actually would appreciate that effort a lot!”

Again, read the full blog here: What they do: Ruth.

While you are clicking anyway, go ahead and like The Better World on Facebook.

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February 10, 2016

Close your eyes…

Last week it was. I was heading towards my training. While I was fighting my personal demons, I looked out of the window of the bus. A confused man was trying to get some attention from an elderly woman who was waiting for her bus. It was clear he just needed some attention. The loneliness radiated from his posture. He was tired and desperate. Trust me. In general, a (hu)man who asks for help, in these conditions, really needs it! It takes a lot of courage and desperation to accept that you can’t do it alone.

The woman went through different stages. First she tried to ignore the situation. Then she tried harder to ignore the situation. Then there was a brief contact between them which indicated she tried to get rid of the situation and then she ignored the situation. When none of this helped, she stood up and walked away.

The effort made by this woman, to ignore the situation and eventually to remove herself from the situation hit me like a lantern post can hit your head when you are looking the other way. It ripped something in my heart and I could not think of anything else then to get off the bus as soon as possible. I went to sit at that same spot the old lady had been sitting. I just sat there and looked up to the man. “Are you okay?” –“Not at all”.

Our conversation did not take long. I convinced him to sit next to me and just listened to him for a bit. He dozed off several times and though I was sincerely concerned about his health, all I could do for him at that moment, was just sit there with him, waiting for his bus. He argued how people never stop to disappoint and never care. I understood this statement and I felt ashamed. This is what humanity comes down to all too often. His bus arrived and he said a brief goodbye. I offered him something to munch on and he left. As he entered the bus he turned around and waved. There was a hint of a grateful smile on his face and he radiated just that little spark of energy that hopefully would get him to his next destination. I hope he is okay. I hope he will be okay.

It took me 10 minutes. 10 minutes! It did not cost me anything. I was not in danger. I do not feel superior now. I do not share this story with you to get compliments on how fantastic I am and how well I spent these 10 minutes. I do not feel better than that woman who walked away. I understand the wish to close our eyes. The world can be cruel and this cruelty hurts. It is easier to walk away. All I am, is disappointed and outraged. Outraged about the disability of so many people to (wo)man up and stand our ground. It just takes 10 minutes, or less, to give someone the feeling that he or she matters. That he or she is a human, just as valuable as the rest of us. It takes a friendly hello. It takes a cup of coffee or a handshake.

It takes being silent and just sitting with someone.