If You Can't Save The World At Least Save Yourself

You can't save the world alone. You might be the one person that influences many others to save the world. But you cannot do it alone.

So in the meantime make sure you take good care of yourself. Because your health is something that you can control.

Here is a little history on the cultural forces that have created this vast problem we now face.

In 1948 Mr Paul Muller won a nobel prize for the supposedly remarkable invention of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, more commonly known as DDT. World War Two had just ended and the Western world was now in possession of a vast array of chemicals that had been developed during the conflict.

We thought these were a great thing.

The 1950s were an interesting point in history. The age of mass production was really taking off. People moved in droves to live side by side in identical houses in the suburbs. People drove identical cars and lived identical lives. Television and advertising were starting to take hold. Mass consumption was being born.

The threat of nuclear destruction hung over the world. But we knew that if we could survive that things were going to get better and better forever. We had a vision, we knew that if we all worked hard one day the world would become a paradise. Eventually economic and technological development would take us to a point where machines did all the work, poverty was eradicated, war ceased to exist and everybody spent their days sipping margaritas by the pool. The future looked full of promise. Mr Muller and his DDT were part of the process that was going to take us there.

The Vision Is Shattered

Yet very soon the vision was about to be challenged. In 1960 Rachel Carson published a book called Silent Spring. It documented the effects that DDT was having on the avian food chain. Carson warned that if we continued to use the chemical we could one day wake up to a silent spring - all the birds would be dead.

Until that time our culture had always believed that the world could handle anything we threw at it. We believed that it was the destiny of mankind to increase his mastery of the natural forces of this planet until we had control at the flick of a switch or the pull of a lever. Nobody gave a second thought dumping poisons or exploding nuclear weapons.

Carson changed all that. Her book gave birth to the modern environmental movement. What followed in the next two decades was an entire generation that questioned the basic assumptions of our culture. The flower children of the sixties and seventies sought to throw the status quo into disarray, turn the world upside down and start all over again.

They got ever so close but in the end failed for a simple reason. They couldn't make a living. Free love, peace and LSD didn't put food on the table and a roof over their head. Some tried living in communes, but they still struggled to make a living. Providing for themselves always came second to the ideals of community.

So in the end they had to suck in their pride and go and work for the evil corporations that they so despised. Their dreams dwindled into a fashion statement.

The Destruction Continued

Environmental awareness grew rapidly, but so did environmental destruction. Nobody consciously wants to degrade the earth, but we are all trapped in a system that can only function if it is growing.

Civilization, up until now, has always had room to expand. There were always more fields to be put to the plow, more empty space on which to put our increasing population. As long as there was more space to grow into and more resources to exploit civilization had been a raging success. But now when our limits have been reached we are seeing the folly of this 10,000 year old social model.

Now instead of moving to new pastures to fuel growth corporations are using chemicals to increase what they can extract from the existing land. The only reason chemicals go into our food and our homes is because it is a cheaper way to produce more things. And money is all that matters to those that hold the power in our society.

How Are We Going To Save The World?

Growth, consumption and economics cannot solve the problems that they have created. The vision that things were going to get better and better and better until one day we reached that elusive paradise is now dead. We all know that if we keep on doing things as we are now irreversible damage is going to be done to the biosphere. That's why we are stuck in limbo. The vision of progress that we have pursuing for so long is now clearly untenable. And we don't know what to do about. Our leaders urge us to continue, just keep going the way we have, things will get better. But things aren't getting better, they're only getting worse.

We all know that chemicals and pesticides are harmful to human health. We all know that what works for business doesn't necessarily work for people. We all know that industrial civilization, even civilization altogether, hasn't delivered the paradise it promised and never will. We all want change.

Saving the world is a big ask and cannot be done by any one person alone. The only way things will change if there is a critical mass of people thinking and acting differently. So while the whole world is out of reach your personal world is not. Your world and the world of your friends and family can be saved. You can do things in your personal life that will have a positive impact. You can't save the world but you can save yourself.

One of the easiest and most effective methods is to take care of your personal health. Think about the foods you eat, think about the medicines you take and think about the chemicals that you expose yourself to in your own home; the bathroom products, the cleaning products, your mattress and your bedding.

The human body is an amazing organism. But we weaken ourselves with sedentary work, not enough exercise, dead foods and exposure to unnatural chemical substances. Our mental clarity and well being is reduced while our physical bodies suffer just the same.

We need to accept the things we can't control and take responsibility for the things we can. Unfortunately you can't save the world just by "going green" as there are much deeper cultural forces at work. Turning the political economy upside is beyond one person. But ensuring that I am in pristine health is something I must do. And you must do it too. If you can't save the world at least save yourself.

Be the change and maybe you will inspire a movement.

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