After I started this journey through mindfulness in the wild, I felt the urge to put into actions all my awareness. To give it a purpose that was beyond awareness itself.
It naturally came to me to start cleaning the dirt I would find while exploring. Without having to ask and without the need of any kind of encouragement, Veronica Gabriele started to do exactly the same.
So we decided to found Inspire.
Keep it kind
When we go around ecoparticipating with Inspire, it’s incredible the amount of people who praise us without truly “standing up” and starting to ecoparticipate themselves.
However, what is even more outstanding is the amount of people who judge.
They either throw shame on those who polluted, or they state that we are doing something great but useless, because there’s no way to save this world: “people are too *insult* to succeed”.
Pollution makes us angry too, but the real challenge is to ecoparticipate with kindness and no judgment. To be grateful for those who help, but not blame those who don’t. To inspire instead of throwing shame indeed.
Otherwise, we would be the first ones to pollute.
After expressing this thought on Instagram a few days ago, I felt the need to write a whole blog post about it because I strongly believe that it’s an issue that is never addressed enough.
Kindness is way too often misinterpreted as politeness, weakness, or even worse: compliance.
I’ve been told many times that I was a bleeding heart just because I was being kind and I would refuse to judge a bad behaviour. Because I would encourage education instead of blaming or public shaming.
People often feel that if they don’t make their voice heard in an outraging, usually angry way, then they’re agreeing with what happens before them. But are they? Aren’t they reinforcing that same shameful, violent culture?
Despite its non-violent nature, people feel threatened by kindness, because it’s a behaviour that involves questioning oneself, accepting one’s own faults and wrong behaviour – accepting we were wrong and not perfect. Therefore, change. And change scares people probably more than anything else in the world, because it reminds us that we are part of this world too, where everything is impermanent, including us.
So we turn to anger and rage. It makes us feel safer. But rage calls rage, the same way any other emotion is usually self-fed.
Pollution is an act of disrespect and rudeness. “Bad-education”, as we say in Italian. The same way as insulting someone, yelling at someone or, indeed, judging someone is. Poor education leads us to think that it doesn’t matter if we pollute, insult, yell or judge. So we throw stuff out of our car window, we live trash on top of a mountain, or we insult our neighbor in the same natural way with which we breathe, eat or sleep.
And more than luckily our neighbor will insult us to tell us that we are being rude. Paradoxical, isn’t it?
Why would I ever teach/inspire/ask for kindness by yelling, or judging, or wasting any kind of energy on focusing on negative, angry, possibly violent actions and thoughts? Wouldn’t it be completely incoherent?
When attacking someone, all you get in return is a defensive action. And by publicly shaming someone, all you get in return is frustration and, probably, reinforcement of that same action or word you scolded with such vehemence. Why? Because through your equally violent behaviour you are approving that of others. And it only becomes a game of power.
Education doesn’t go down the same road of judgment, punishment, public shaming or blame. You must be the teaching you are trying to pass on.
There’s no kindness in insulting someone who polluted, as much as there’s none in drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or increasing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Is it the ego that prevents us from being kind? Is it the education we had in the first place? Or is it the consciousness that, by agreeing to kindness, you will have to question – and change – your whole life?
Justification of our own unproductive behaviour happens in two ways: discharging it on others (it’s their fault, everybody does it, I wouldn’t behave like this if it weren’t for the outside world), or appealing to our insignificance. The famous: “I’m not important enough to make a difference”.
We often feel like there’s nothing we can do because “this is how things are” and nothing can change them. Nevertheless, if I’m not mistaken, the world wasn’t always like this. It changed, and changed, and changed, and then changed again. And more. And that change was done by people themselves. Every single time. One person started to think or act in one way, then two, then three, then a whole nation, then the whole world. And things changed. So why shouldn’t it be possible now?
Why shouldn’t it be possible to create a kinder world? Why shouldn’t it be possible to start empowering each other instead of shaming, or blaming, or judging?
We often feel as if we would have to drastically change our lives. As if tomorrow morning we would have to wake up and be like cavemen again, or behave in some kind of alien way. But really, to choose mindfully what products and how many products we buy, how we talk to people, how we respond when we are provoked, what ethics we want to pursue: these are no drastic actions. You can keep on living your life and still change it and be kind.
And yes, I do believe that this will have an impact on the world in the most tremendously strong way. Kindness can really change the course of the planet, both environmentally and socially speaking.
Kindness can initiate the only revolution that this world has ever truly needed and never had. A revolution of awareness and care.
As I often state and remind myself, and as Victor Frankl said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”. And the destiny of this planet.