I am reading a book called The Other 90% by Robert K. Cooper. In Chapter 18, he talks about being a “champion of lost causes.” In that chapter he writes, “Imagine yourself years from now at the end of your life. Your children and grandchildren are gathered around you, and one of the youngest ones asks you what you did in your life to make the world better. What will you say? Your answer will surely be shaped by the lost causes you fought for, or failed to fight for.”
I have a friend that I like to debate with, and the other day he told me that all our conversations are the same. We debate, he challenges what I say, and in the end we both have to agree that “the world is screwed either way, probably won’t change, but it would be nice if it would change.” I had the book with me and he pointed to the title of that chapter and said he understood why I liked the book. Maybe I do like to champion the “lost cause”, but even though trying to change things seems often like a lost cause, I still think it is really important to try.
Before I read this book, I had been thinking about how important it is to me to be able to say, on my death bed, that while I was here I at least tried to make the world a little better. I do not want to have to say that I came here, used things up, contributed not much at all, and then left again. So, I decided to write out what I would like to do to achieve that. What legacy do I want to leave… as in… how will I have tried to leave the world a bit better (perhaps than I found it) or how will I have tried to leave the lightest footprint and a positive footprint on the earth for future generations?
This is my (perhaps idealistic) list:
I want to be a good wife and mother. If I fail to be this, then I fail in a lot of ways. This matters the most.
I want to be a positive presence for other people and I want to support people to become their best selves and be a supporting voice when it comes to them achieving whatever their dreams are. I want to help others realize that they can dream big and that many of the limitations they think they see are not really there. Three people in my life who have shown me how important this is (by supporting me) are my Dad, my husband, and my always optimistic and supportive friend, Samantha Hardin.
I want to help people by sharing what I know and what I have learned so far from my studies and experiences. Writing articles and books seems like a good way to do this. I can reach more people. If I write certain articles or books (which I want to be in line with my values and not just geared to make money) and they even help one person, then I have helped one more person than would have otherwise been helped.
Raise my children to also think like this and teach them to be introspective / reflective, live consciously, positively and lightly and to follow their own dreams and talents. If I can raise my children like this, then perhaps they will raise their children like this and the benefit of more people in the world attempting to live like this multiplies with each generation. (Cycles of abuse and negativity get passed down through generations, so I think this can be passed down instead!)
I want to try to consume less and be conscious of what my family and I consume. Using natural products, growing some of our own food, buying organic, reusing things, buying used, etc. are some ways we can live more lightly on the planet. When it gets tiring or I want to give up for convenience I can reflect on some of these things:
- For every cloth diaper or towel I wash, one less ends up in the dump for future generations to deal with. There is also a lot of waste produced in the manufacturing and transport process needed to make and sell these disposable things.
- For the time spent learning to garden and growing some of our own food, that much less food has to be grown elsewhere and delivered to my house using oil and other non renewable resources. I am also making use of the land I already have and not letting it just sit there. If I grow things organically and thoughtfully, my efforts can actually improve the soil over time.
- For the time I spend cooking healthy food from scratch, I achieve several things. I can teach my children how to eat well and take care of themselves, I can choose not to support a food industry that doesn’t make healthy food (for us or the environment), and I may also be saving money for our future and contributing less to the amount of energy needed and wasted by factories to make all these complex food products and ship them. I am also taking care of my own health and the health of my family.
- When I buy things used or I reuse my own things, I am saving one less thing from the dump and extending its usefulness. I am also practicing frugality and saving money for our future.
This is not everything I want to do, but remaining conscious of why I do certain things definitely makes doing them easier. When I am tired and don’t feel like chopping carrots or doing another load of laundry, thinking about the reasons behind what I am doing can certainly help to rejuvenate my efforts.
Additionally, if I have a voice that can reach many people, I believe I am obligated to use it to bring awareness to a variety of different causes. Likewise, if I have the money and the time, I should use some of that in the service of different causes I believe in, too. Donating time or money to different organizations / charities should be done if you have some extra to give.
Well, that is all I can come up with for now. I am sure some people will read this and think that it is crazy, idealistic, and pointless, but most of us will never be Mother Teresa, Ghandi, or any other famous champion of “lost causes.” Despite this, we all have the power to do small things and bring something positive to the world every single day. None of us are perfect and we might not always do the right things, but we should use the power we have to do some good and leave the world a bit better off than it was when we arrived.