You are not responsible for the world's problems.
The weight of the world simply cannot be put on any one individual’s shoulders.
Please remember that your obligations start with yourself, then your family and those within your close community.
Be a good person with a healthy body and mind.
If you have the capacity to help with any issue that’s fantastic. But it’s not expected.
Poverty, inequality, human rights abuses, climate change, animal cruelty – the list of depressing issues is staggering and goes on and on.
These things can be fixed, but definitely not overnight, nor by any one human being. They require collaboration, institutions and hard work.
Also, you won’t be helping anyone or anything unless you’re ok.
Please remember that it’s normal and completely understandable to feel overwhelmed and exasperated when being exposed to the world’s problems.
You are not alone.
Start with those around you.
Remember that we are not perfect. Your actions are not expected to be perfect.
Our power as consumers have more weight than most people realise. Simply questioning things is a great start. Where did these bananas come from? Do I really need to buy another bag?
It’s the incremental small things that we can focus on regularly.
Consider putting on a playlist on your headphones and walking to the store. Volunteer some time to serve food at a shelter.
If you have the capacity, the time, and the mental headspace to think about the larger problems, then by all means, go right ahead.
But chances are, it’s the collective ‘small things’ that we all do that will have a more immediate impact.
Understanding a problem, and having measurable solutions can go a long way at fixing issues.
There are governments, corporations, small businesses, nonprofits and consumers. They all have a part to play, and different levels of responsibility.
Remember that the term ‘carbon footprint’ was coined by British Petroleum (BP) to shift a lot of the blame and responsibility to consumers.
Yet they’re the ones responsible for Deepwater Horizon, spewing millions of tonnes of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico – not you.
Globally, obesity is now a bigger problem than hunger. There’s clearly more than enough food to go around. Hypothetically, if every overweight person shared a meal with someone starving, we’d solve the issue.
The problem, of course, is more complex. International borders, crony governments, wars and geography make this challenging. Remember, it’s not directly your responsibility. We’ll find ways to fix this eventually. For now, help someone out nearby if you can.
Inequality is another issue that can be addressed locally. Pushing our workplaces to make salaries transparent is a great idea. Why are they hidden in the first place?
Electing politicians that have plans on low income housing, equitable taxation of big business and positive female equality policies is key.
Humanity has survived wars, plagues and revolutions. In the longer run, we will survive today’s challenges.
Younger generations are increasingly intelligent and switched on to these issues – particularly climate change. As they mature, work and vote they will help speed along the changes required.
Consumers are now becoming much more conscious about where they spend their money.
Small brands are leading the charge with innovation and sustainability, while we’re demanding larger brands to improve their labor practices.
Activism is stronger than ever, both on social media and on the streets.
Remember that we need to take baby steps by helping people locally, and buying the right things. We need to buy less stuff, and consume less environmentally detrimental products. We need to elect the right people to lead our countries.
You can’t change people, but you can help change social norms for the better.
Ultimately though, we need to stay healthy in body, mind and soul before we even begin to think about making any changes.