…that sets a spark in your soul.” That seems like fairly sound advice. But I wonder how many people listen to their soul. I venture it’s not many. It’s not often that I visit places commonly referred to as “civilisation”, but when I do there are very few people I come across who I believe listen to their soul. The rest, who don’t, appear rather frustrated or unhappy or some other unhealthy emotion. Uncoincidentally, they also tend to be the ones who condescendingly and sympathetically ask me what it’s like to be back in “civilisation” (when they can tear themselves away from their smartphones). My interested response is to enquire how they define “civilisation”, and usually it involves ubiquitous internet access, mobile phone signal, reliable electricity and satellite television and a number of other insignificant commodities, to which I suggest that “civilisation” might indeed also mean that people are civilised to each other. They wholeheartedly agree, after which I tell them tales of far flung Pacific islands where people do not have locks on their doors, nobody is hungry or sleeping rough, and where walking into a village usually prompts multiple invitations for tea and food, and more smiles and waves than a week in a “civilised city”. I ask again how they define “civilisation” and they suddenly, albeit briefly, appear a little less sure of the world that society has conditioned them to surround themselves with as a measure of their success. But, unsurprisingly, I digress.
Your soul. Your moral and emotional nature, your sense of identity, what makes you, whatever you want to call it. When did you last listen to it? I mean truly listen to it. How was it?
Observing other members of my species is often quite discouraging for my soul’s moral sense, although such observations usually take place when I am in “civilisation”. I observe carefree pollution of our only planet, the single use then discard of plastic with abandon, the barbaric treatment of other species for our own pleasure, the selfishness of a species that has done more to negatively impact the planet than any other species since life began some 4 billion years ago. And we’ve only been here for about 200,000 of those years, at a push!
The straw you just used will join the rest of the 100 million tonnes of plastic that enter the ocean annually. It will add to one of the plastic gyres choking the oceans that the media doesn’t want you to know about. It might kill a turtle. Or it might break down into a microplastic (it will never disappear) which will then be consumed by a small fish that confuses it for planktonic prey, the small fish will be consumed by a bigger fish, which will be consumed by a person, who will then become very sick. It will then re-enter the system. It will never disappear.
The tuna you just ate will probably have come from a longline fishery that will most likely have had a significant amount of bycatch to discard at sea, of which a reasonable percentage will probably have been sharks. Those sharks are some of the 100 million (that high number again) that will be killed by humans this year. And if that’s not enough to persuade you to think beyond tuna, what about the fact that you are insidiously poisoning yourself with mercury?!
So does going to “civilisation” and observing humans set a spark in my soul? Not particularly! But there is good news! You can do something about it! Everybody can! The media don’t want you to realise you have a mind of your own, but you do! Funnily enough, it often works quite closely with your soul.
There are now *gulp* over 7 billion people on the planet (I’ll talk about plagues another day), and every single one of us has a mind of our own, and if every single one of us were to commit to make a small difference everyday that would be a pretty big difference globally! Turn off lights you’re not using. Only fill your kettle with the water you need. Deliberately ask not to have a straw with your next drink. Take a reusable bag when you go shopping. Check if your fish is a healthy choice and where it came from. Be nice to each other. The list is endless, and all of it makes your soul happy.
If it’s gone out, reset the spark in your soul. Do whatever it takes, because a world of happy souls will be a better world, and you owe it to yourself. Go to the place that sets a spark in your soul? Easy. I go to the ocean.