With every 1st January there is always the idea that “maybe this year will be different”. We hope, dream and pray that our lives will be that bit easier or better, but what do we DO to make that happen? Somehow, we seem to let the opportunities that we want, go. Somehow, we end up with ‘leaders’ like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro that seem to make decisions and pronouncements that fly in the face of logic and what we believe is good for the world. How can that happen?
Well it’s simple and was clearly outlined in 1770 by Edmund Burke in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents when he said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” There is a very young lady saying it today – Greta Thunberg – who is castigating world leaders for dragging their feet, for not understanding we are in panic mode, for seeming really not to care about the future of the world. While we are all concerned about whether we will have a job next year, or be able to afford to send our kids to school, or to save for a holiday, she is telling us that unless we all get on board the sustainability train now, there will be no train in the future, no station, no track, nothing, no future.
So, what I am saying to everyone is that it is up to YOU to do your part, to understand that the problems are all caused by you. And the answers are in your hands. You can accept that or reject it, but perhaps even if you reject it you can still make SOME changes that will help and maybe reduce your guilt (if you have any!) a little!
Let’s start with transport. If you are reading this magazine, posting or website, it’s likely you own at least one car or a motorbike. Which makes you part of the traffic, pollution and energy crises simultaneously. What are you going to do to reduce your personal impact? Think now, act tomorrow.
Then let’s look at energy and the fact that right now you are in air-conditioned luxury. Is it an efficient system? Can you do something better to reduce your energy use and your carbon footprint?
Now let’s go shopping and look at your basket of goods, do you really want to buy anything plastic wrapped, multi-layer coated, foil and metal encased, or plastic bottled? Or can you find alternatives. Remember that in Jakarta there are 120 companies taking your waste away to the landfill dump, only ONE has full recycling capability. Are you using them? Because if you are not you are adding your personal pile to the 7,500 tonnes of garbage disposed of every day in Jakarta alone, to the wonderful Bantar Gebang, now a 150-hectare, 40-metre high mountain range. How much of that is yours?
It’s easy to criticise our leaders (and many of them need serious reminders of what they promised us in elections!) and easy to think only of ourselves and our ‘needs’ but we also have responsibilities and if we don’t accept them I don’t think we can point out the mistakes others are making with too much force. We need to change ourselves first.
May your new year indeed be a new start with new ways of making things better.