Assessing our Harm Footprint
I saw many posts on social media this weekend expressing frustration and anger about the irresponsibility of quarantine protesters around the country.
I, like many of you, am extremely triggered when people compromise the well-being of others, for the sake of meeting their own needs.
And yet, sadly, I am aware of how most of us do this, on a daily basis, in some form or another. It may not be in this obvious of a way or at this scope, or it may be.
The potential harm we do is related to our choices:
What we eat
What we purchase
Where we purchase it
How we drive
Where we work
The nature of our work
What we wear
How we treat one another
In other words, how we live and how we consume is a very interconnected web that has direct impact on billions of lives every day. Slave labor. Child trafficking. Sweat shops. Auto accidents. Mental health.
Hell, I can barely use our crosswalk safely most days, because drivers aren’t paying attention or just ignore the rules.
Mostly we can’t see the full impact of our daily choices. It is not as clear and obvious as it is with this virus. So, as I said earlier this week, this time period has the potentiality of increasing our empathy—our eye towards injustice.
By all means, be angry at irresponsible behavior. It’s appropriate. Then, can we use this anger we feel about others choices as a fuel for OUR current and future decisions? Can we make the small choices everyday that align with the commitment of doing less harm, even at the expense of our own comfort, convenience, budget and freedom? Can we acknowledge our individual willful ignorance? That’s how we move from powerlessness into power.
Am I condoning or defending the protesters in any way? Nope.
Am I saying that your speeding, my “fast fashion” blouse (even IF it’s second hand) or that Nestle chocolate bunny does as much harm as those protesters?
I’m saying maybe. Maybe.
Those are pretty hard metrics to track, at this point.
Mostly, I’m saying in the famous words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”