What can we even do?
A lot, actually. We say that love can conquer evil. But there’s fundamentally two different kinds of love. When you say that you love someone, do you really love them and want them to be happy even without you or do you love the way they make you feel? Is it truly love for others or a love of self? When we love ourselves a bit too much, we tend to indulge ourselves with things that bring us happiness, comfort, status, decoration like a Mercedes, a fancy scarf, jewelry, a hot shower, a steak, a mansion….
Most evil, historically, has been done to take things we want from others who have that thing or have the labor to produce, extract, or design things we want. When there’s a desire, someone will find the cheapest way to fulfill that desire. When we pay them and turn a blind eye to how that thing arrives in our hands, we may be paying for evil in our names. Whether it’s conflict diamonds, the latest iphone, veal, pate, trafficking, oil, a cotton dress, rubber… Where did it come from? Who had to be hurt, enslaved, raped, killed to get you that thing cheaply?
The only way to win is to reduce our consumption. Find the simple pleasures that hurt no one. A sunrise, a sunset, your own garden, a fresh tomato, giving, volunteering, singing, making art, mountain climbing, dinghy sailing, a walk in the park…. When you truly love others, and not just yourself, it must occur to you to ask: ‘who am i hurting?’ or ‘am i paying someone to hurt, exploit, enslave, or kill others?’
In the past, we justified great evil because someone else had something we wanted, like oil, land, water, food and it was merely for survival. We empowered corporations, governments, plantations to take what we wanted and sell it to us as cheaply as possible, often times outright stealing it from others, destroying the land to strip mine, enslaving labor to pick cotton, extract rubber, oil, torturing baby cows in a cage to ensure tenderness, forcefeeding an animal to make their liver tastier, genetically modifying chickens to have so much meat it breaks their legs, getting happy endings and not asking yourself if the girl was trafficked, kidnapped, held against her will. There has been much evil done because we love ourselves a bit too much, others a bit too little, a refusal to engage in difficult thoughts, and a willingness to pay for the cheapest commodity without asking how it came to be?
Right now, putin is empowered to steal, rape, kill women, children, bomb schools, kitchens, train stations, because we are addicted to oil. Our own euros, dollars, marks, kroners fund his war machine and it will only get worse as resources become more scarce. Are we complicit? When you buy a $1 cheeseburger, are you not empowering someone else to kill on your behalf? For $1,are they treating the animals, the workers, with love, compassion, fairness, or are they literally making, extracting it as cheaply as possible?
Everything requires energy. Some things require a lot of energy. That energy, presently, comes from oil in the vast majority of cases. You want a hamburger, so someone rapes a cow, separates the baby from the mother, locks them up in the cheapest factory possible, kills the baby, milks the mother until she no longer produces. You want to be comfortable, oil fuels your heater, your ac, your car, your hot water heater… putin, prince mohammed bin salman are empowered. You want lithium, indium tin oxide in the latest iphone or huawei, xiaomi, oppo, you are empowering the ccp to use forced or child labor, to run concentration camps, persecute religious minorities… You are paying them and empowering them.
So, we say we hate evil and that love can win. But it’s only love of others and sacrificing / subordinating our love for self, our comfort, our fashion, our things- that love FOR OTHERS can win.
How can we help? First we must ask ourselves, who am I hurting, who am i paying or empowering to hurt others for my benefit? Only sober, searching introspection can tell you the answers. Am i really helping others or am i helping myself at others’ expense?
Find happiness where you are. Find happiness in simplicity. Maybe you grow your own or pay a little more for local produce grown with love but you shortcut the exploitation, you save transport fuel, you save the earth, you cut off evil from their empowering funding. Maybe you walk, ride a bike, take public transport, kayak, instead of buying a huge suv? Maybe you turn down the ac a little? Or put on a sweater instead of turning on the heat? Maybe you eat plants instead of baby animals? Maybe you get a second hand phone? In aggregate, if some of us do this, we can reduce the evil, reduce the oil, reduce our empowerment of evil men, and reduce our destruction of this earth.
Right now, democracies around the world have imposed sanctions on putin to get him to stop killing innocent women and children, but we still buy his oil. And as oil, gas, energy prices rise, the right will protest. putin is counting on this. The only way to win is to reduce our use. With decreased demand, prices will drop, the right won’t protest or riot, and putin will be forced to the table and the needless killing will stop. It’s the same for the ccp. If we choose not to buy Chinese, we stop empowering concentration camps and autocratic leaders.
So, what are some simple things you can do to stop evil, to save the earth, to be healthier? Everytime you buy an animal product, it’s proof that there’s a market. It’s a conveyer belt. Every burger you buy, another must be made to replace it on the shelf and energy must be used to feed, grow, kill, and move it. Stop buying meat. Maybe pay a little more for local produce instead of produce from afar? Maybe grow your own? Going fast uses exponentially more energy. Slow down a little, drive a little less, walk if you can. Open your windows, use the breeze instead of ac? Turn down the temperature a few degrees on your water heater. Install a solar panel? So much energy is wasted on generation, transformation, distribution. Turn down your heater even just a little. Put on a sweater? If twenty percent of us do these simple things, then less oil, less pollution, less climate change, less autocratic totalitarian leaders, less exploitation.
I don’t judge you by your car, how colorful your clothes, your bling, your bbq, your house; the mark of a good person is their consideration of others and an attempt to minimize the pain of those other people that we create.
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.