thomas m wilson

My Challenge To You

I challenge you to:

1. Read Edward O. Wilson’s The Future of Life. E. O. Wilson is the most eloquent and stylish purveyor of the great truth that:

Earth, and especially the razor-thin film enveloping it, is our home, our wellspring, our physical and much of our spiritual sustenance.

2. Go for a walk in nature and be aware of other species, each a masterpiece of evolution, thousands to millions of years old, and exquisitely well adapted to the niche in which it occurs. If your local patch of wilderness is not enough (hopefully it will be), go wherever you have to — be it tropical rainforests, heathlands, or temperate forests — to feel a strong attraction to nature. Spend some time there.

3. Don’t be overwhelmed by the scope of our problems and mistakenly think that you have only two options: save the world or recoil into apathy. The third and best option is to say to yourself: ‘have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two’. Even though you can’t save the world, you can serve the world.  You can give meaning to your life and pride to your identity through action.

If you did the first three things then…

4. Understand to what extent your society lives each day in a culture of consumerism. Resist this. Real fulfilment comes from things like rest, food, movement, laughter, friendship and love.

5. Discover the satisfaction of performing an altruistic act.

6. Vote for your Green party. They are the only party who will make sustainability mainstream. Their policies also encourage a society where there is less of a culture of consumerism and materialism, and less of a grossly inequitable distribution of income (with its associated envy and resentment). Some people complain about the Greens policies on certain social issues, but even if you disagree with such policies you should see that they are insignificant compared to the Greens strong policies on conserving humanity’s life-support systems. Your vote for the Greens is not wasted as, in the Upper House of parliaments in Australia, Greens are regularly elected, and in the lower house your vote will probably just flow to Labour, but with a message to them that people care about Green issues. This is one of the easiest things I’m challenging you to do, but it is also one of the most essential. Without government building into our society financial incentives to not destroy the earth, no long-term continuation of life as we currently know it is possible.

7. If you live in Australia and eat meat, eat kangaroo. Funnily enough this could be the saviour of Australian biodiversity. Otherwise, try to eat organic and locally grown whole foods, mainly plants.

8. At least once a week visit a natural place. A wild place, not a concrete building, is the habitat within which Homo sapiens evolved in concert. Green is good for your mental health.

9. Become acquainted with your own local heritage, for example learn the names of a few local tree species and bird species.