When i was growing up, I wouldn’t say i was that aware of the wider world. Far from. I did however have a strong sense if justice, a yearning for balance and fairness. I believe this came from the fables, and moral based stories I was nurtured on. My Mum, and an Aunty especially during early years, would read us books, and teach us stories. The stories were never just black and white, but they had a clear morale lesson. I’m a Muslim, and although that didn’t carry the same weight as it does now. Those stories were very heavily based within the context of Islam, Islam being a way of life. More than just following a set of rules or laws, but embodying a character of goodness. From within, something that isn’t faked, or accomplished just by ticking boxes. I’m getting carried away with my adult mind.
One of the stories, also these wont be verbatim. Some may end up being my own recollections or extractions from them. As opposed to the stories themselves. So ok, one of the stories was about 2 people travelling. Both quite a distance, one being more outwardly religious than the other. Preaching and teaching people along their journey. While the other appeared, ‘normal’. They both came upon a cat, dying of thirst. The holy man ignored the cat, because he had more important things to do. The normal man, saw the cat and stopped their journey to find the cat some water. He found a well nearby, filled his leather sock with water and came back to feed the cat.
I think you may have guessed which one was the ‘better’ one. For me, it’s obvious and always has been. I’ve since realised that’s not the case for everyone. Some of us unlearn our most natural instincts of mercy. How we should treat the environment, the people and other organisms around us. We have become so without purpose, that we have lost our sense of morality.
Just in case you’re wondering. The ‘right’ thing to do was to stop and prevent the cat from dying. We can inject all kinds of contexts, like what if the holy man was in a hurry. Or even what if he had been attacked by a cat previously, and wanted to avoid that. In this story, that was not the context, only what was mentioned. They both had the same level of power, influence, authority, respect. The same choice in front of them, and the same lack of and access to resources. The same faculties, and ability to think, and decide on an action. The same ability to assess the consequences of doing or not doing something. The simple fact is that the ‘normal’ man, saved a life. While the so called holy man, allowed a life to end – where he could have prevented it.
This is what sustainability is like to me. Do we really have the choice to walk by the dying cat? Or, in other words, can we really afford to allow our world to die? That’s what is happening. Some of us wont be around to have to mitigate some of the coming issues, but we have played a part in contributing to it. If only by walking on by. Not playing the role we actually have the power to.
So my first note to self, is to take action. Do what I have the power and reach to. It doesnt have to be perfect, and it doesnt always have to be better. The most important thing is to take action, and do the right things that you can.