It’s the slowness of things that I believe in. If you, and you alone, took a private jet to the Bermuda Triangle, it wouldn’t really matter to our earth, our ozone layer. But if every rich person did, it suddenly would. It’s the same with your economy-class ticket, your sirloin steak, your beloved can of aerosol hairspray. Isolated incidences don’t mean much. But we are not isolated. You have no idea just how powerful you are to the people around you. Your influence is grand. And slowly, your can of hairspray triples. Your flight becomes twenty other people’s who know a friend of a friend that stayed at a beautiful resort in Bermuda. Your steak sounds good, so your friend orders it too. Our actions don’t sit alone on a bench by themselves, pouting. They bump shoulders. They imitate other people’s, and other people’s imitate yours.
It works the other way around too. Your purchase of carbon offsets don’t go unnoticed. You mention it in passing to a friend. You get roped into a conversation about them in a group of people. Their sales steadily ticks upwards, and a reporter writes an article about how many people are buying carbon offsets. A thousand people that didn’t know about them before now do. Slowly, change seeps into the world through our actions.
To stop climate change, we must believe in the result of our actions accumulating. We must acknowledge that we are not islands, but intricate stitches in the carefully woven blanket that is human existence. One little thing never hurts. But one little thing never remains singular. Without great speed, our decisions and actions expand through our influence, spreading out across humanity’s collective unconscious.
Besides, who are we to destroy the world? Who are we to cry, “I don’t matter!” Take it from an introvert with a limited supply of friends: I turned two people vegan without even trying to. You don’t have to preach to change the world. You can do it without ever opening your mouth. Just living in accordance with your values is enough.
Do you value the planet? Congrats. You believe in flying responsible and eating less meat (or none at all). You believe in giving up the hairspray. And you know what? It all matters, because you are part of a community, because you are not alone, and because you believe in the slowness of things.