Day 3 -or- What inspires you?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams

I want to introduce you to someone who deeply inspires me: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen is the author of several cookbooks including Color Me Vegan, The Vegan Table, and The Joy of Vegan Baking. She has spoken at many vegetarian conventions and runs an award-winning podcast called “Food for Thought” from her website, www.compassionatecooks.com.

She is impossibly compassionate, even in the face of adversity, and is a true source of motivation to all who seek to live life with more understanding and consideration for all living things. She reminds us that our actions—and reactions—affect more than just our lives. The consequences of the choices we make are like pebbles dropped into still waters. No matter how small we may think they are, they cause a ripple effect outward, setting into place a series of events we may never know about. To act out of love and compassion and set aside our selfishness can be a true challenge. To do as little harm as possible… well I think that’s something we can all easily work towards one step at a time.

I’ve heard it said that we can’t save the world. We can’t stop what has already been set in motion. No REAL change for the environment seems likely. A coworker sent me this Machiavelli quote:

And one ought to consider that there is nothing more difficult to pull off, more chancy to succeed in, or more dangerous to manage, than the introduction of a new order of things. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. In consequence, whenever those who oppose the changes can do so, they attack them vigorously, and the defense made by others is only lukewarm. We must distinguish between innovators who stand alone and those who depend on others, that is between those who to achieve their purposes can force the issue, and those who must use persuasion. In the second case they always come to grief, having accomplished nothing.          -Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

I feel this, in the back of my mind, sometimes. I feel despair when I think about what we’ve done to our world and what we do to each other. My father told me that God will end this Earth when He sees fit and there’s nothing we can do about it. That seems so negative and hopeless—like saying you’re going to die one day anyway, so why bother taking care of your health. It also seems very selfish to throw our hands up and do nothing because we know we can’t do everything. In times where things seem hopeless, I remind myself of the simple, yet powerful Chinese proverb:

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

There will always be darkness in people, and thus in our world. I would be a fool to think that everyone will suddenly change their life-long habits and open their eyes to what they are doing to us all with the choices they make.  And I don’t exclude myself from this because I am far from perfect and never will be. But I don’t think that means I should give up. Rather, I think it means I should not be “lukewarm.” I feel that people who advocate change, while they may not accomplish everything, certainly aren’t accomplishing nothing. Every kind act, every selfless deed, every “better” choice, makes a difference; I truly believe that. We may never know what that difference is, but I believe it matters.

Even if we do not “save the Earth,” perhaps we can give one child a better future, or put food on one more hungry person’s plate, or save one more animal from suffering. Because it matter to them, it should matter to us.  We may not change the collective mind of the masses, but perhaps we may gather together (those of us with like minds) and be happier and more enlightened for it. And we can encourage others to join us, although not everyone will. We can stand in the sun, and feel its warmth, and give thanks for that.

Certainly these things matter.

(Recipe by Colleen to be posted later today!)

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