I have always been a worrier. It’s never been a worry about what people think of me, or how I’m dressed though sometimes those things come into pay, but a greater worry about the wellbeing of people, animals, the planet. I get so frustrated when I see people being inconsiderate towards others when there are some really simple things they can do. I do take into account that these inconsiderate people have their own things going on that I’m not aware of so I’m not super critical of them, I just get frustrated with the complacency of others.
For example, I live in an area with incredible kerbside recycling facilities — there’s very little we can’t put in our special recycling bins right on our doorstep — yet I see so many people in my neighbourhood either recycle sporadically, or just treat the special bin as a second landfill bin. I understood more about people not recycling when it was inconvenient – having to store and haul your recyclables to potentially different locations is a pain, but it’s so easy now, why don’t people do it? Some people feel it’s ‘big brother’ and they should be allowed to do what they want. It’s an odd selfishness that I don’t understand at all and it really occupies way too much of my time getting myself worked up about the way others behave.
I try to step back and think that I can do what I can do to reduce my impact on the planet, but then I look at what others around me do and feel so much despair (I can actually feel my heart rate increasing as I type this) that people can’t see beyond the end of their noses how their actions affect other people/places. Why should it all be left up to people like me with a consciousness about our impacts? I know some of it is down to knowledge/education, but I know plenty of people who are well aware of these things but make no changes to their behaviour.
I get to the point where I start to think ‘What’s the freakin’ point of you being so concerned about these things, recycling every little scrap of paper, beer bottle top, etc. when so few around you do nothing? Why don’t you just give up and follow the status quo? You’d probably be happier since you wouldn’t be worrying – you’d be blissfully ignorant.’ But I can’t seem to do this. I can’t seem to not care about the environment/sexism/animal welfare. I end up feeling guilty about digressions. And there are so many campaigns about every cause now that I’m inundated with the latest atrocity several times a day via Twitter, Facebook, email, and various news outlets. I can’t escape it.
How do I continue to live by my ethics yet not get all het up when others don’t show the same concern as me when they have the same access as me to things like recycling or public transport? Getting het up just leaves me angry, frustrated, and in despair that things will never improve. And I am very well aware that this causes me mental anguish that will eventually lead, yet again, to a spell of depression. (As I said, I do cut people slack in many ways since I don’t know their whole story — e.g. the woman around the corner that works in the same building as me yet drives into work instead of taking the bus when there are literally dozens of options for her. While yet she complains about having to go in extra early because of traffic and the price of parking her car everyday, she may have very good reasons for driving instead of using public transport.)
I need to find ways to do my bit for the things that are important to me, and not get angry and frustrated with others not practicing the same ethics as me. Any ideas? I guess the first is to unsubscribe from all news feeds on Twitter/Facebook, and see what I can do to manage the emails, and avoid the news on TV/papers/online as best I can. It’s so easy to get sucked into these stories and become enraged, and then have no real outlet for that rage.
I could go on in a rambling sort of way as I have, but I’ll end here. If you’ve any ideas on what I can do to keep myself living my ethics, but also not feeling guilty if they slip or I can’t keep up with them, then please let me know!