From someone who is still struggling to do it
We decry cruelty, and then indulge in retail therapy on Amazon whose workers endure appalling conditions. We sit in awe at natural wonders on Attenborough’s documentaries, but continue to drive to work and eat meat every day of the week. What causes this hypocrisy?
In short, we forget that our actions have a global reach, and think parochially whilst the consequences extend beyond borders. Many of us are brilliant at forgetting the consequences of our lifestyles and practice a mob wife mentality; living off of injustice and exploitation, so long as we do not witness it. Nonetheless, this article isn’t intended to browbeat or condemn anyone, and I’m certainly not the one to do it either- people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I think many of us are well meaning, and I hold no contempt for those who struggle to extrapolate forward and see the causal effect of what are ostensibly small decisions in everyday life. For millennia humans have lived in small, local communities which only need concern themselves with their own affairs. In such circumstances, you could see the result of your actions and adjust accordingly. Globalisation has put an end to such an existence for most of us, but many of us find it hard to shake a local and tribal mindset. This mindset is out of date however; the average individual will consume products which clock up more air miles than the buyer. This means that many of our actions now have a wide reach, even if we don’t leave our district of birth.
Thinking globally doesn’t come naturally to humans, on the contrary, it’s a constant and uncomfortable battle to override our immediate needs in favour of places and people outside of our spheres. Frankly, it’s tough to forego convenience for some distant justice; to sacrifice pleasures for places we have never been, people we have never met and animals we will never touch. It’s hard to worry about dolphins you have never swam with, or to link the juicy steak in the freezer to increases in Carbon Dioxide and deforestation. Moreover, life has a habit of wearing down our will to think beyond the horizon. On a grey rainy Monday, packing groceries after a 9–5 shift at the job you hate, with the kids tugging at your jacket, it’s hard to think about the impact your purchases will have globally, or the effect on climate that your traveling choices cumulatively have. You know you should walk instead of taking the bus, but it’s wet outside, and you know you should go veggie, but your stomach rumbles for red meat.
Nonetheless, we are part of the global village, and not only can we see halfway across the world, but our actions have effects there too. As such, we all have a responsibility to think globally.
How do we do this?
See The Impact Of Your Decisions
One way of countering the tendency to think locally is by looking at videos and articles which show the impact our choices have; media technology has evolved alongside globalisation and means we can choose to see the end result of our decisions. We can see factory conditions, watch documentaries about the effect of the meat industry and see the effect of plastic on the ecosystem. Choosing to stop being willingly blind is the first and perhaps most important step in thinking globally. Don’t flood yourself with images daily however as this will only lead to stress and anxiety. As I said earlier, we are all human, and it’s natural to feel a disconnect between your daily decisions and the end result. Nonetheless, try to remember the end result of some of your decisions from time to time, and keep the consequences of your actions healthily present.
Avoid All Or Nothing Thinking
Go easy on yourself; I often see zealous carnivores saying to flexitarians that they’re not “real” vegetarians and should thus give up and eat all the meat they want. This is absurd. If everyone reduced the amount of meat they ate, our carbon footprint would be reduced dramatically; we do not need a world of perfect environmentalists, just one where everyone reforms their habits slightly and become more conscious of their impact. Thinking globally doesn’t need to mean you give up everything that might have a negative impact. Like a new diet, set a few goals and stick to them, but allow yourself the odd indulgence; you don’t need to sell your car, but you might want to buy a bike for instance. You don’t have to give up meat entirely, but you should try to eat it less, say, 2 times times a week.
Lastly, read into issues, look at ways to minimise your carbon footprint and engage with groups who are dedicated to protecting wildlife, minimising pollution and exposing poor working conditions. Look into companies before buying their products, and always read the label on items to ensure they are ethically sourced.
In conclusion, I understand and sympathise with anyone who struggles to think globally, mainly because it is something that I fall short on frequently. Nonetheless, we all have a duty to be more environmentally aware and to consider the impact of our decisions. Sometimes we will fail, but with practice and time, we can all succeed more often, which cumulatively, can help shape a better world.