Offsetting my "Ignorance Footprint"...

Friday, 22 August 2008


You must be the change you want to see in the world.” 
Mahatma Gandhi ...
***

One of the main reasons that I want to go back to live in India is because of the guilt that I feel living in a first world country. I am not a saint, I have lived my life to excess at some points. I have been drunk far too many times, I have spent too much money on clothes, electronics, food and every other luxury that is thrown in my face by consumerism. I have wasted, not wanted... and been ungrateful for what life has given me...

When I think of myself throwing food away, leaving a tap dripping all night, spending ridiculous amounts of money on crap, I feel angry and determined to make up for all the mistakes I have made.

My journey is not one of self satisfaction... It is not a fashion statement... It is nothing to do with offsetting my footprint in this world. That to me would be like the first world countries 'buying' their freedom from third world countries, to pollute their skies for money. I don't want to work hard, play hard and pay for my 'carbon footprint' later with cash, when by doing that somebody else in the world has to work hard, never play and never get to drink a glass of fresh water.

It causes me great anguish to see adverts for 'the lowest omission 4x4 on the road'... WHY oh WHY do you NEED a Range Rover Sport in the hills of London, to get to Waitrose and back? (I just found this website, of the 'Alliance Against Urban 4x4s'... thank God I'm not alone!)

Has anyone ever worked hard enough to deserve this? (Yes it's solid silver)

I don't deserve to have more than everybody else, do I? Should I think that God has put me here in 'Material Heaven' I should not be accountable for the other 2/3rds of the worlds population.

Since I have travelled and seen the world, met the 'real' people out there, the people with passion for life, the people who smile when they see you... I have realised what 'poor' really means. These so called poor people are richer than me in every way. They have the support from their extended families, they are happy with what they have, they have pride in their jobs, they have faith in their God.

A lot better than working in Tesco's?

I feel it is my duty as a mother to bring my daughter into a world of pride and respect. Human life is so precious, whether it belongs to a king or a beggar. Who can decide which life is worth more?

This lady may not have much to sell but she has her pride.

I have some poor friends. In fact I have met so many people over the years who have touched my heart. More than that they have shown me what life is really about, the beauty in a sunset, a shell or even a leftover meal. 

One beggar I passed everyday on the streets of Calcutta, smiled at me and never asked me for money, she had pride. One day I took her the leftovers of our lunch and a small muffin. Many beggars just grab what you give and run away. She looked into my eyes and said to me "Thank you Sister"...

Some of the most beautiful people I have met have been poor. They have invited me into their homes, their families and their lives and prepared food for me with no thought to how much my meal cost. Many of the mothers have gone without to feed their guest. One saying in India is, Atithi devo bhavah, or "our guests are our gods" (Taken from Hindu scripture) There is no Indian home where you will not be treated to food and a drink, however poor the family is. They will go without themselves to feed a visitor.

***
This is one day that I will never forget... 

A mother of four, younger than me, a husband who drinks, sleeps and rarely goes to work. Four beautiful children, they don't go to school, they have learnt English from foreigners, they spend their days looking for tourists to sell their goods to... invited me to lunch at their house.

Real happiness comes from other people...

From living close to nature...

Still want that Ikea kitchen?


True pride comes from being humble...

Sincere hospitality is giving more than you've got...

I have been friends with them ever since...

***
So my plan to live a self sufficient life has a little bit to do with wanting to save our planet for our future children, but it is mostly about living my life in a simpler way to make room for everyone to enjoy our world. For my conscience to blossom and grow into compassion for others who are less fortunate than me. For me to teach peace and humility to my beautiful daughter, who deserves more than I ever had... not possessions, but experiences...

I want to feel like I am only taking my fair share of this life...
and giving back more than I have.

9 comments:

Jade of the Jungle said...

What a lovely, lovely, lovely post! I couldn't agree with you more. And I'm really happy for you that you've worked out what happiness means for you, and that you're striving for that. There are so many distractions in this life that not everyone has got there, or ever will get there. That to me is true poverty!

Jade x

Praveen said...

Wonderful thoughts!.
I applaud your desire to live a simple life and yearn for existential meaning...Most of us are looking for answers but only few know or have it..

emmani said...

I know what you mean Jade... I guess we are all on our own journey, only some of us got out of bed early and missed the traffic!

Praveen thanks for you kind words... How did you find me? Do you have a blog?

Move To Portugal said...

Great post Emma, I'm sure we've all done things to excess in the past, I know I have, with bells on. What happens from here on in is what matters.

apieceofwood said...

Makes you feel very humble and you're right.. some things are important and some things are so not..

Anonymous said...

A wonderful post Emma and isn't it Ghandhi who also said, "Live simply, so that others may simply live."
I have made the curry, we had it for dinner this evening (Sun) it was very yummy, thanks for a great recipe!!

Jane

Sharon J said...

Well you certainly know how to make a person sit back and think. REALLY think.

I'm sure nobody could possibly disagree with what you're saying, not unless they're extremely selfish anyway.

I have to say though that yes, I do still want my Ikea kitchen. I don't over consume and I truly care about the plights of others but I do still want my life to be just a little bit easier.

emmani said...

Hello...

Laura-I think I had bells and flashing neon lights! When are you free for coffee?

A piece of wood- I guess everyone has different priorities depending on what time of day, how late they are, what mood they are in etc... It's about what is important at that particular time...

Jane- whoever said that, they hit the nail on the head! I'm glad you enjoyed the curry too...

Sharon- I was thinking about my post when you did the post on saving! I know what you mean though, we each have our own situations and as long as we keep in mind what is excess for ourselves, we can keep a good balance... Ikea don't do gold plated taps for example! But if I got an imported fitted kitchen in India and spent 5 grand I would feel disgusted with myself as I could get a locally handmade one for 500...

Sharon J said...

No, they don't, Emma, and even if they did I wouldn't want them! I'm still reeling from the solid silver car that you mentioned in your post. Mind you, I once went to a wedding where one of the guests had a Rolls with a solid gold grill! Why???? I guess he must have been trying to prove something but it certainly didn't impress me. Quite the opposite in fact, even though I was just 16 at the time.