Sailing One’s Own Ship in a Tumultuous World

Mariner has spent the last few days outside preparing for spring. It has been a nice respite from the Presidential campaign. Given all the attention to the presidential campaign, one must search a few channels and websites to find world news. The world isn’t doing too well. Economically, international trade is dropping significantly; the European Union is out of cash; Great Britain has citizen pressure to leave the European Union; the BRIC nations,[1] supposedly the new hot economies, all are on the verge of recession; emigration from the Middle East and northern Africa continues – reflecting continued war, tyranny and human violence on one sixth of the Earth’s land mass; the USA hangs precariously on the edge of a potential recession. Not to mention global warming and the decimation of hundreds of species due to habitat destruction.

Chicken Little grows more restless as US bombers are flown to the South China Sea and Kim Jong-Un launches more rockets. China’s GDP has dropped from 14.2% in 2007 to 6.5% today; China is not in the mood to be pushed around.

One is confronted enough to retreat back to the garden…

What shall we do about this global mess? It must be dealt with in pieces. The reader must take one thing at a time – based on personal concern and the willingness to deal with the pieces one feels are important. Despite all the news about campaigns, faltering economies, idiotic wars and terrorism, starving human beings, racial prejudice, class economy, and dysfunctional governments, where the rubber meets the road today is at the individual level. Look in a mirror to identify today’s champion. The important thing is to feel that you are actually helping bring order and ethos to a troubled planet.

Some suggestions – more likely the reader has others that may be better:

Be Civil – The phrase “pass it forward” is quite effective. Each day, be alert to the opportunity to make things easier for another person. Don’t be grandiose about it – just a small effort that is barely noticed. A friend of mariner’s walks every day for exercise but while doing so picks up trash and speaks briefly to everyone he meets.

Share – This may take practice to perform in an unimposing way. Everyone knows a number of people who are disadvantaged in some way; perhaps they are so poor as to be concerned about food or medicine or finding a way to get to the bank and grocery store. Perhaps they are old or disabled and limited in their ability to carry out normal tasks. Quietly adopt them; find ways to assist them that are friendly and unobtrusive. The mariner knows a family that grows a large vegetable garden and gives all the harvest to charity. Another individual offers to babysit while the mother buys groceries. It is amazing how nothing more than being a friend can change a person’s life. Civility and sharing are the foundation of community bonding; ethos cannot emerge without them.

Participate – Your community is dynamic. When developers first built huge bedroom communities with hundreds of homes, “communities” did not automatically exist. Instead, there were sterile collections of bedrooms that had no connectivity and no neighborhood identity that provided a feeling of belonging. Eventually, residents began visiting one another; some had interest in group activities and local schools; organizations emerged involving everything from religion to sports to social clubs and investment clubs – to name a few of many activities that make a community a dynamic environment. Participating in community activities is necessary; social and political unity cannot emerge without individuals participating in community activities.

Be responsible – A special type of participation is to contribute to the well being of community institutions. Be active in political organizations; volunteer at libraries, hospitals, religious institutions, government programs similar to adopting a highway or educational programs similar to pre-school and after-school social programs. It goes without saying: take your right to vote seriously; when the opportunity arises, meet all your elected officials; when exercising your right to vote, be inclusive of the community gestalt – don’t be vain or close-minded about your ideology. You may also run for an elected office.

Be cosmopolitan – An endless world community exists outside your local community. It is similar to your own community but the issues are more numerous, extremely complicated, and often seriously critical. You automatically own a share of the global community just as you own a share of your local community. Some worldly topics may already be important to you. Potable water, an everyday thing we never think about, on the world stage is a critical issue. Flint Michigan is in the news now. But fresh water is rapidly disappearing. Another issue is poverty; it is growing in the US – the wealthiest nation in the world. Another issue is race; another is economic fairness – not only between the one percent and the middle class but between white laborers and nonwhite laborers, between men and women, between business and labor. Another issue is the planet itself. Earth is in dire need of friends; human life as we know it is at stake within a lifetime.

The reader’s involvement in the wellbeing of neighbors, community, and worldly issues – doing something responsible on your own – may ease the insecurity imposed on you by the campaign for President. Personal commitment will erase feelings of helplessness as the world seems to collapse around you. Don’t be limited by this post’s suggestions – use your imagination to engage meaningfully.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Brazil, Russia, India, China.

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