There’s a great piece in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that says: “Space is big, really big. You might think it’s a long way down the road to the local chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space”. And there’s also the piece about the total perspective vortex, the most hideous torture for any sentient being, where one sees oneself in proportion to the infinity of space: “an invisible dot on an invisible dot”. And lastly (in case you haven’t fielded my drift yet), there was that great image in Al Gore’s documentary, An inconvenient truth, that showed a photo of Earth from the (Voyager?) space probe out past Saturn, that turned its camera back to planet Earth and showed our tiny little dot of a planet in relation to just a part of our solar system and the Milky Way. Sobering stuff, mein Gott!
Perspective. What’s our perspective of our life in Australia (and other parts of the rich world) in comparison to that of other human beings in Burma, China and Zimbabwe – or Indigenous Australia for that matter? And that’s just for starters.
It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? As individuals, we might feel helpless in not being able to make a difference, but collectively we can make a difference. Every small positive act can mean something – to an individual, a family, a community. The aggregation of hearts, minds and commitment have achieved many positive things in history if, as individuals, we choose to act. Despair is not something we in the rich world can afford for inaction.
What can we do? We can start by donating now to the appeals from Medecins Sans Frontieres and others in relation to the current natural disasters in Burma and China. We can be selective if we want to but let’s not use that as an excuse to do nothing. We can make a commitment to keep donating to whatever helpful cause (you can see who I support below my blogroll), so that our commitment is enduring and consistent. But this is a financial commitment, important and necessary, but we can do more.
What is just as important, and just as significant, is how each of us relates to each other – in person, within our communities, and with people we may never meet. It’s our way of thinking – our perspective – that can make the difference (something that was reinforced to me today when speaking with Andrea from Reconciliation Australia). How we look at things, and how we try and see the perspective of others, are very important for each of us. And out of this perspective shift, our attitudes and behaviours and responses will change accordingly.
Perspective – that’s something to think about in our dealings with other people, both here and overseas