Thursday, 27 January 2011 14:09
Making a change in the world can be an easy part of your everyday life. Here are 10 ways you can make a difference. From Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life by Zoe Weil
1. Commit to the 3 I’s: Inquire, Introspect, live with Integrity. Expose yourself to information and ideas about most good (MOGO) living by talking to and learning from people from all walks of life -- especially people who are also trying to do the most good and the least harm; by reading widely and deeply; by visiting websites aimed at making a difference; and by viewing relevant films. You can find a list of regularly updated websites, books, magazines, and films in the resources section at HumaneEducation.org. Then introspect: identify your values, consider what is most important to you, assess your talents and interests, and seek out ways to put these together practically and productively. Finally, live with integrity. To the best of your ability, put your values into practice.
2. Work for change. Give some of your time, resources, and talents to create systemic change that benefits all. Choose the issues that most concern and compel you, get involved, and relish the joy that such generosity brings to yourself and others. If you can, make your career one that is MOGO.
3. Rethink, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle. As much as possible, rethink your use of products that are unnecessary, inhumane, produced through exploitive business practices, non-recyclable, over-packaged, toxic, and/or unsustainable. When you do make purchases, choose the most sustainable, efficient, humane, fairly traded, and healthy versions. Then reuse what you can, repair what is reparable, and recycle when you are through. And in the midst of these 4 Rs, consider what you could borrow instead of buy, and what you could share with friends and neighbors so that they can better rethink unnecessary products, too.
4. Eat for life. As much as possible, choose plant-based foods produced close to where you live, grown organically, and unprocessed. This will improve your health, the environment, the lives of animals, and the wellbeing of other people.
5. Reduce your ecological footprint. Drive less, carpool, walk, bike, car-share, and use public transportation more. If you need to own a car, choose one with the best fuel efficiency to meet your needs. Choose the most energy efficient and ecologically friendly options for homes, home repair, appliances, lighting, heating, and cooling. Choose your recreation and vacations with MOGO in mind as well: an ecotourism excursion over a cruise; cross-country skiing instead of downhill skiing; canoeing more often than motor boating.
6. Transform education. People need relevant information, tools for critical thinking, and motivation to lead meaningful lives that contribute to a better world. Whether you are a parent, student, teacher, elder, or concerned citizen, help make living sustainably and peacefully the very purpose of education at all levels by engaging in dialogue with lawmakers, educators, and school and university administrators.
7. Invest your money ethically. If you are going to rely on a mutual fund for retirement or college, choose a socially responsible investment fund. Ask for a portfolio and assess whether the company invests in the kinds of businesses you want to support. Seek out community banks and credit unions, and consider micro-lending and investment in social businesses as a means of using your money to help others.
8. Build community. Find others who share your desire to make MOGO choices by joining existing groups or creating your own group, and invite people to join you. You will enjoy the friendship and camaraderie, and help make a difference at the same time. Don’t forget the communities of which you are already a part. Get to know your neighbors, and work with them to make your neighborhood healthy, supportive, and safe.
9. Teach others. Share what you know with others and engage them in the challenge of living a MOGO life by using positive communication that does not judge or blame. Listen as often as you speak. Teaching and learning happen everywhere: one on one, in schools, in religious congregations, at camps, in families, in print and film, at learning centers, on social networking internet sites, at senior facilities, and so on. Model your message, and speak your truth in kind and inspiring ways wherever you are and with whomever you’re in contact.
10. Strive for balance. Set reasonable goals for yourself, and remember that the “most good, least harm” equation includes you. You are a role model for a MOGO life, so find the balance that lets you live joyfully, enthusiastically, and compassionately.
(Zoe Weil, author of Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education. She created the first M.Ed degree and certificate programs in humane education in the United States. Zoe leads MOGO and humane education workshops throughout the Unite States and Canada. She lives in coastal Maine. Visit zoeweil.com for information on workshops and presentations.)
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