It’s kinda hard to miss it’s nearly Christmas if you’re living in the Western Hemisphere and you’re leaving the house at the moment. I for one am looking forward to going home for Christmas, help my mum cook, celebrate a belated Sinterklaas and spend time with my family and friends that I don’t see nearly as often as I would like to.
In this season of unbridled shopping (I’m actively avoiding going into central London on weekends, the tourist-shopping-crowds are horrendous… I love you, dear tourists, but please don’t stop in the middle of the street to take a picture and then get cross if a bus honks at you, carry a tube map with you (pick up a free one from any tube station) but don’t stop and read it right at the entrance of Leicester Square station, and please please please remember that there’s a reason why all the Londoners stand on the right hand side of the escalator. Oh, I had no idea I had all this pent-up frustration in me. Mental note to self: remember you were a tourist once and made these mistakes. And many more. Multiple times. I think I must be turning into a proper Londoner, they (or should I say ‘we’) like nothing more than to moan about tourists. All this as an aside.) I’m not trying to go nuts.
After that rant, something more in keeping with the spirit of the season. No, don’t worry, I won’t sing, you’re probably right in guessing that my voice needs a little bit more practicing in showers.
For some strange reason that I can’t quite fathom myself, I’ve become quite the activist lately. There’s a lot wrong with this world and I’m sick of being apathetic about it. Sick and tired. So slowly but surely I’m trying to right a few small wrongs. I’ve bought carbon-offsetting for all my flights for 2007 and intend to do so for 2008 too (amazingly, it costs very little too). I’ve written to British Airways to ask if they could offer carbon offsetting with their booking procedure (right before the annoying ‘do you want a hotel’ advert they display), have written to Eurostar asking if they can offer competitively priced one-stop tickets to any Dutch stations (as they do for the Belgian stations) so it becomes more financially viable to travel to NL in a carbon-neutral way, I’ve signed a bunch of petitions (asking to ban styrofoam, to get the Climate Change bill accepted in the House of Commons (x2) amongst others), made a micro-loan through Kiva. Not enough to save the planet, or make a big difference, but maybe my small actions will add up to something bigger. And I’d rather do something small than nothing at all.
I’m trying to be less evil. The world has enough evil, apathy and cynicism in it. Time for some kindness. I believe that if we all do a little bit, lots of little bits will ad up to a lot (consider compounded interest for the (would-be) MBA’s). I realise that sometimes it doesn’t feel like that, and it’s easy to become cynical and find flaws in anything and anyone who’s trying to make this world a better place. I’m not saying become a happy-clappy-noncritical person. All I’m saying is that this is our world. We are the people we’ve been waiting for to change the world. Now go and do it. And if that seemingly selfless aspect of it doesn’t convince you, consider this: all research into happiness shows that helping others gives you a huge sense of happiness and wellbeing. If you need some inspiration to make this world a little bit of a better place, check out these resources:
* Change the World for a Fiver (book) and the accompanying website
* The Everyday Activist (book) and the accompanying website and blog
* UnLtd, a London organisation that supports social entrepreneurship
* Room to Read, a charity close to my heart, with a mission of educating children
* Kiva, become a investor
* Freecycle your unwanted stuff
* Plant a tree
* Perform random acts of kindness
* Smile at the people around you
* Give to your favourite charity
My plans for 2008: do more good, be less evil.