There is a balance to be struck in life between the personal and the global.
Firstly, before anything, we rate ourselves. If we weren’t around, then how would we conceive of life? ‘I’ am the most important letter in my alphabet. Everything begins with our conscious and becomes our thoughts, which become our actions. We recognise ourselves, and then we see the world around us.
People work really hard to better themselves, earn more money, travel more, further themselves, achieve more, learn more, broaden their horizons, read more, experience more, eat more, gain more power. Live and live and live.
There is a whole world out there as well. A world for us to go play in. A world full of dramatic sights, strange cities; full of poverty and deforestation; full of slow moving glaciers and gentle falling petals; full of crowds and lonely people; full of disease and torture; full of literature and violence, poetry and pain, waterfalls and acid rain. There’s a lot out there to see and do, to become a part of. There’s a lot out there to join in with, to watch, to change, to help with, to photograph and write about and eat.
When I face a problem – the end of a relationship, an argument with my Mother, anything that makes me feel like shit – I let the feelings engulf me completely. I am ANGRY and SAD and UPSET and there’s nothing you can do to change it. I’m perfectly justified in my mood, after all, a BAD THING has happened. Nobody loves me, leave me alone. Fuck you and you and you.
When I see a problem in the world – deforestation, global warming (global burning?!) – then I can feel so fucking small. How can one tiny (ANGRY SAD UPSET) person make any kind of change? There is a lot to be done, and one person can’t do it all.
I can move seamlessly from being the most important person in the world to being someone who probably won’t be listened to by anyone else.
Tempering one’s sense of self-importance against the needs of the world is a balancing act. We need to not allow ourselves to becomes overwhelmed at either end of the spectrum. Neither our personal problems nor the global problems faced by the world are insurmountable. In fact, working on global problems usually makes personal problems seem more managable, (in contrast!).
On the same day, Stephen told me he had met someone else in Barcelona (and I’m going to stab her in the face if ever I see her. ANGRY. SAD. UPSET. Yeah.) and I read this article about various conglomerate corporations plundering the Amazon. Even while I was feeling like I’d just been punched in the stomach, I was reading about issues larger than me and as big as the world. It made me remember that while love is pretty important (because if there isn’t love, then why stick around in the world anyway?), my sadness matters as equally as the desecration of the Amazon basin.
Equally? Really? Surely the plundering of the Amazon is more important than my crush? Doesn’t it affect hundreds more lives? The future of the WORLD depends on the rainforest. Well, the future of my world depends on my balanced mental health. Give me enough time to get over the sad part and I’ll get to helping fix the Amazon later. Although, it turns out I can be upset AND vegan at the same time. And you know how being vegan will solve all the world’s problems.
Course, when I mention to people how I’m vegan (and GOD, do I go on about it) they generally reply ‘Oh, I could never give up cheese.’ Well, I could never give up this world here I’m living on. Another example of personal versus global – I think it’s more important that the rainforest still be hanging around in more than fifty years time than that I get to have brie on my cracker just because I like cheese.
Society (western consumer society) encourages us to think only of ourselves. Adverts promote us getting to work faster, us looking cooler , us eating ever tastier food, us finding more pleasure, us doing…People who are philanthropists are rare and lauded – Florence Nightingale, anyone? She left behind all this to mop the brows of the mutilated in the Crimean War. She put others first, more so than a lot of people do in this world.
In this, our Western world, we have a plethoric abundance of resources. Yet, we’re the most selfish people I know. Our wealth, power, comfort, security, learnin’, travelling is more important to us than not only the survival of the planet, but often more important than the right of other people to all these things.
Walking the line between global and personal allows us to choose what we let affect us. We can choose whether to be overwhelmed or not, and what by. We can choose to make a difference by shifting our ‘instinctive’ thought processes from the personal to the global. By helping others, we can help ourselves. By seeing how we fit into this whole playground of a world, we can choose to keep it going, which in turn keeps us in vodka and heels – or whatever else it is that makes your life worth living.