Political Optimism.

I’m under the weather today. Ideally I would have made a new video (the first in so long, the first in my new place!) but getting off the couch is a bit of a chore. I’ve been mostly reading and taking advantage of the instant watch feature on Netflix, and just finished watching No Impact Man.

A brief summary: This is a documentary about a man and his family as they attempt to live as green as possible for a year. They live in New York City, have an enviably cool apartment (the chairs!!!), and what seems like a wonderful and communicative relationship. Over the course of the year they cut out buying anything in packaging, begin to compost inside their apartment kitchen, give up toilet paper and other throw-away products, make all their own soaps, and forgo electricity.

I recommend the movie! But aside from just the basic message of the film – live comfortably using as little of the earth’s resources as possible – the filmmaker has such bright outlooks on the drive of people to make direct positive impacts on the world.

“If just I change, it’s not going to make much of a difference. But the hope is, if a lot of us as individuals change, it’s going to inspire everybody to change. So I believe the most radical political act there is is to be an optimist.

All of us are interconnected, and on many levels. If you’re religious, you understand that at a religious level. But even if you’re just practical you can see that we’re interconnected. If I splash a puddle and you’re standing next to it, it splashes you. If I make pollution, you have to breathe it in.

My mind wants to tell me that I’m the only one that’s important. So I have to keep teaching myself over and over again that that’s not true.” – No Impact Man

What we do affects others. Every day we make choices, no just in what we consume, but in our way of going through a day that it completely tied to other people we encounter in person and those we never see.

Holding a door for someone. Letting someone across the street go through a stop sign before you. Complimenting someone on what they are wearing. Engaging in conversation, even for a minute, to make a connection to someone else as a human being. These are all small ways where kindness and optimism can become contagious.

I remember when I was in college (round one, ha!) and one of my professors told us about his former job working for Crayola on the line for the paper wrappers that go around the crayons. And I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s someone’s job. Someone makes their living wrapping the crayons I have used for many years of my life.” ¬†This man supported his family, ¬†bought a home, and got up every day to go to this job most people don’t think about, but so many have directly used. Isn’t that incredible to think about?

When we back up and try to imagine that in the larger scope of our lives, we are affected (and in turn affect) hundreds and thousands of people, every day!

I began to watch another film, which begins with this quote:

“If one pulls on a single thread in nature, you’ll find it attached to everything else.” – John Muir

Interconnectedness is certainly abound. What timing! And on a personal and incredible level, I just checked my email and got a wonderful message from a new reader who told me a great story about how she found out about this blog. Her daughter was getting dental work done, and she was asking a woman in the dental office about what kinds of foods her daughter could eat while she was healing. She was especially curious as they are a vegetarian family. Turns out the dental employee had come to my cooking class, and told this woman and her daughter all about Save the Kales!

Now I’m going to be working with her in person as a nutritional case study for school. It’s so wonderful, and directly ties in with this whole idea that we can become a part of someone’s life without even knowing it!

Today, take notice of the products you use. Think about the folks who work hard every day that have some hand in creating that product. Say hello to a stranger. Look at items and food that you buy and consider how it impacts the earth and other people. And do it with the joyful knowledge that we are all in this together.

And I believe that really can change the world.

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