Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do one thing a week

The new year is just a few days away. That always makes me think about what I have accomplished this past year and what my goals should be the next year. Over the last few years I have done many things to reduce my carbon footprint from buying a hybrid when I needed a new car to installing a dual flush kit. But I still have a carbon footprint.

So, I need to keep up the trend of making those changes. Some have been small, some large. As long as we continue to make those changed, eventually, we will be living a lot more sustainably. For example, this year, I will make the effort to take the bus or ride my bike to work at least once a week. If I am successful for three months, I will increase that to twice a week.

The changes we make do not have to be ground breaking, or wallet breaking. I'll be the first to admit that I am too cheap to install solar panels on my house. I have, however, changed all of my lightbulbs to CFL's, bought LED holiday lights, and unplug everything that does not need to be plugged in. When solar panels or VAWT's become economically viable, i.e. they cost less than the cost of electricity over their life spans, then I will buy them.

So, look at what you do everyday and try to find little things that can reduce your carbon footprint. You may find, as I did, that taking the bus is a great time to catch up on some reading.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Starting Small

There was another news story about starting small when going green. Some people, feeling overwhelmed by all the things that going green entails, get paralyzed and therefore do not do anything. What most should do is start small. Change a few light bulbs, if you need a new toilet, consider dual flush, if you have to buy a new appliance, get one that is energy star compliant. There is no need to try to radically change the way you live. That is usually too intimidating for anyone, including myself.

This same philosophy can apply to equality. If you believe in equality, that does not mean others will. As with going green, trying to convince someone that equality is better is not an all or nothing proposition. As with going green, changing fundamental beliefs is intimidating. Try getting to the core of the persons ideas and thoughts, not just what they say initially. Listen to what they are saying and try to understand their perspective. It will give you the opportunity to respond to the real issue and not just the presented issue. If you can just get te person to think a little differently, maybe just start to question a deeply held racist or sexist belief, the conversation will have been a success.
And the person may be a little more open minded the next time you talk.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Is prejudice ingrained in humans?

I read this quote today:

"If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon."
- George Aiken

Sadly, I see the truth in it. People always tend to find some reason to say that their small group is better than some other group. Even when all the people appear to be the same. Europe or Africa are prime examples. They all have similar physical appearance, especially countries very near to each other, yet, they always find a reason to hate each other.

I often wonder if this is intentionally promoted by those in power. This would be done for want of power. Each group has a leader and most leaders want to be in control of ever more, either territory, people, or wealth. If the groups in the next country is equal, that implies that it is fine for that leader to be in control. If the other groups is inferior, it gives a leader an excuse to conquer so they can "help the lesser people".

There are other places where prejudicial distinctions are made. Think about the grade school yard. Kids are notorious for discriminating. I don't think kids get to second grade without having very defined groups. Some people are able to move between groups, but in general, once a kid is labeled as a member of one group, that is how everyone will see them. Some of this is self selection based on dress, hair style, etc., but some is by association or behavior.

What will it take for humans to just see another human without having preconceived notions about what kind of person they are? Or at least to accept the person as they are (minus those that may do us harm)?