Raising awareness only goes so far. I once had a very long rant about my hatred of that phrase. ‘Raising awareness’. Knowledge is important but it is only the beginning. Climate discussions around the dinner table are important. Information is valuable. Sharing information, spreading facts & not being afraid to TALK is incredibly important. Words are thoughs, words define policies, philosophies & theories. WORDS are POWERFUL.
But once knowledge has been spread, once awareness has been raised, what then? We need to talk about rape, child abuse, homosexuality, racism, climate change, whaling, torture & our superpowers. & after dinner? I’m a member of one of Facebook’s causes, Free Tibet…or something. I read the updates, occasionally. I know a little bit. My awareness that something is going down in Tibet has been raised. How does my knowledge of these facts aid them in any way?
At a recent(ish) dinner table climate change discussion I became increasingly frustrated with, uh, an attendee, as she argued that it was positive how people were talking more about environmental matters & ‘things were getting better’. I asked her what evidence she had for this positive viewpoint. I was honestly interested, since I like to hear good things about the state of the world & she might have been able to cotton me onto some resources as yet unknown to myself. However, she couldn’t tell me anything she knew of, only that people were talking about climate change, cap & trade, eating less meat…
There is a lot of talk about the environment at the moment. Climate Change is a BIG DEAL & Cop 15 was a bit of a milestone for politics & the environment in terms of the talking (not so much the action). Ironically, all this talk about climate change seems to be inferring to people that Something Is Being Done & that they can go on living as before, but with a greater awareness.
At this specific meal, everyone was aware of environmental damage at some level but did not seem to grasp that they could do more than turn lights off when they left the room & taps off between teeth brushing. (Both important things to do, yes.)
Having a greater awareness of the world, the environment, all of the above is important since without having the knowledge in the first place, how do you know there’s something out there to do something about? But once you have acquired this knowledge, there is rarely nothing that can be done.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should be supporting every cause that comes their way but that we could all definitely be doing more for the ones we are aware of and do want to take part in. So once you feel passionately about something, don’t just retweet the viral video then hope somebody else picks up the slack; check out what else you can do.
This is one of the reasons I’m vegan, actually. It’s incredibly simple to do & yet not eating meat & dairy, & eschewing all animal products means not supporting the devastation of the rainforest (soy production, cattle ranching, unsustainable palm oil manufacture), water pollution, animal testing & suffering of all kinds. You can be vegan & work for Amnesty International, donate to GreenPeace, volunteer at a local DayCare centre, stage protests & sign petitions but it definitely makes me feel like I’m making some kind of difference every day and, of course, I chat to my friends about being vegan & why I’m vegan to raise awareness…but also prove that changes can be made & actions taken to contravene, or at least remove personal support from, the actions of certain companies.
It frustrates me that I feel as though I don’t do half enough as I could & I want to work harder to get involve with direct action & so forth, but it frustrates me more when people have an ‘awareness’ of issues, but believe that a) one person can’t change anything or b) there’s nothing they can do anyway.
Anyone reading this? You certainly have the ability to take action. Just pick something to take action on.