05 January 2009

Let's Make 2009 the Year for saying "No"

Protesters outside the Hotel Washington during...Image via Wikipedia

All the great men and women in the world have been people who, rather than say "Yes", said a very resounding "No" to everything that did not fit their ideal of bounty and growth.
- Paulo Coelho

There are a lot of things wrong in the world, from pointless wars and starvation amidst plenty, to a deepening recession and all the fear and uncertainty that entails.

Its easy to feel powerless in the face of it all, to shrug our shoulders and wonder what 'they' are going to do to fix it for us. But playing the victims isn't going to get us anywhere. We need to take action.

Lets make 2009 the year to lay claim to greatness and say 'No' to the things that don't fit our ideals of bounty and growth. Lets make this the year of standing up for what we believe in, being accountable and making a difference.

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions, but here's a few things I'm saying 'No' to this year:

We need trees! They purify the air we breathe, provide habitats for countless varieties of flora & fauna, and they soothe the soul, amongst other things. Lets all say 'No' to chopping them down en masse so a few can make a transitory profit.

Whether its the Atlantic Forest, the jungles of Borneo or that patch of green on the edge of your neighbourhood, lets not stand by and let it happen in 2009!

You can say 'No' to deforestation in the Atlantic Forest by donating $2 here - and you go in the draw to win an awesome WE ADD UP 'Plant Trees' tee.

Lets make 2009 a year to exercise greed control. A recession is no place for selfishness and hoarding. Join me in saying a resounding 'No' to greed and fear and lets share what we have - time, knowledge, skills, money, possessions. Lets build strong communities, neighbourhoods where we support each other through the tough times ahead. Lets create hope, dignity and opportunity through our generosity.

Almost half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day and at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. That can't fit anybody's ideal of bounty and growth!

And lets not assume that poverty only happens overseas, to other people. There are people in our own communities who, for reasons beyond their control, don't have enough. Let's say a huge 'No' to that this year.

In our world of relative plenty there is no excuse for poverty, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness. We all have a responsibility to do something about it, in our own neighbourhood, in our own country and further afield. With a little generosity, kindness and a shift in our thinking of what is enough we can all create opportunities to lift others out of poverty.

Junk Food
McDonalds is moving in just up the road in Gore. I guess that means we are on the map. But junk food really just doesn't fit my ideal of bounty and growth. It is wasteful, creates vast quantities of rubbish, is less than nutritious and full of empty calories.

For many people junk food - and I don't just mean fast food, but processed food, soda, candy bars, ice-cream - has become a staple part of their diet. According to Dr. Scott Olson most people eat around 1/4-1/2 pound of sugar a day.

And its bad for us. All this junk. It makes us sick, and tired. Its not the food our bodies were made to run on.

So this year lets get back to eating food our Grandparents would recognise as food. More fruit, more vegetables, more wholegrains. Real food.

Lets say 'No' to corporations making money at the expense of our health and wellbeing by selling us junk and calling it food. Lets say 'No' to blindly following their advertising directives and take responsibility for choosing to spend our hard earned money on food that is good for us instead.

How about we choose this year to stop accumulating stuff. Lets choose to define ourselves by our relationships to people rather than by the things that we own and the stuff we consume. Lets make do, buy second hand, opt for reusable rather than throw-away items, borrow from a neighbour, share, make our own . . .

The current economic climate is a marvellous excuse to explore the joys of frugality. Lets embrace it. Lets learn new skills to make the most of what we have.

Lets get out of debt, choose not to get into debt, live within our means. Think of the freedom, think of the choices we will have. Would you really work all that overtime rather than spend the time with your family if you didn't have to pay that huge mortgage for a huge house when a smaller house would do just fine? Does the latest fashion, the newest gadget, the shiniest appliance, the swankiest nick-nack really make your life more rewarding?

This year lets make a point of saying 'No' to stuff. Lets take our lives back, lets focus on the important things instead.

What's your resounding 'No' for 2009?

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