So why should you care about living ethically?

We are a social species, we rely on others in order to be able to live our lives, not too many of us can sustain ourselves, survive or be happy and live alone in a corner of the world where there are no other people. This may seem like paradise to me at times, but I doubt even I could sustain it too long!

I will talk more about this later, but for now it will suffice to say that we cannot know everything, do everything and be everything we need as a solo, isolated individual.

We need people with diverse skills and knowledge to be able to exist and thrive, we require social interaction; friends, family, love. We need to be part of a society. Even in the few remote and untouched areas of the planet, we exist as a species only in tribes, never solitary.

In order to benefit from living within a society we also have an obligation and duty to ensure that we play our part in making sure that society remains healthy and strong. It makes no sense to act in a way that damages or destroys the thing which allows you to thrive and exist does it?

Therefore, if we acknowledge that our existence depends on our society, we have a vested interest in that society being able to thrive and be healthy.

Now in the past, there were a lot less of us, we didn’t necessarily connect with other tribes or need as much space as we do now to feed, clothe and house our species. Now we have a global society, we consume things made and grown all around the planet, we rely on products from all corners of the earth in our modern society.

Basically, what I am describing is the reasoning that if your whole global society doesn’t thrive, neither do you! As a result, even the most selfish among us must accept the logic that it makes sense, and is even imperative to our own survival, to care about what happens to our society as a whole and be and act as ethically as possible. Otherwise we are only harming our own well-being, our own way of life.

And that’s why everyone should care, that’s why you should care. And not just care about your own country, your own tribe, but the whole planet, everything that you are connected with on a daily basis. Don’t think you are connected on a daily basis with the rest of the world…think again!

At this point I would like to invite you to engage in a little contemplative meditation.

This meditation is based on a practice I learned at a Buddhist meditation retreat. I have adapted it a little over the years I have practiced it myself and taught it on my retreats, but this meditation is effective in helping me to reconnect with the world, to rediscover my place in it when I feel lost.

I have taught this to many people in my years of leading retreats, and there are many different reactions to it, all of those reactions have also helped me to learn and grow too. But one of the main things that happens when people do this meditation is that they suddenly realise how interconnected we all are in the world today. And also, how much of an impact we can have in the world, how our choices and decisions can affect people across the globe, who we may have never considered before.

The only thing I need to tell you before you start is to try to stay with the initial theme of the contemplation; it can be easy to get led into becoming angry with corporations, governments and even your own past choices if you let yourself go off track. Follow the trail, but don’t get sucked into a blame game in your head, instead try to stay grateful and positive about the connections you will be making mentally. And if the mental trail takes you to places where the people are very poor; use a grateful mentality towards their labour and efforts rather than a pity mentality; nobody likes being on receiving end of pity.

So, read through the following meditation and my example first and then put down the book, close your eyes and contemplate…

So, in my example, I will start with thanking my husband; I am a spoilt lady and he usually brings me my cup of tea of bed in the morning. I will then think about tracing the origins of the tea down from end user (me) to beginning (tea plant), letting my contemplation expand out as much as it needs to along the journey.

Starting with the shop we bought it from; the people at the checkout and stocking the shelves, and the people in the office ordering the stock, etc.

From there I would think about the warehouse it will have arrived from, but now I also have a vehicle involved because someone will have delivered it. So I have to expand out now, because I have the driver, the people that maintain the vehicle, the people that constructed it, built the component parts, battery, engine, wheels, tyres….the people involved with the petroleum industry, etc, etc.

Coming back to the warehouse, I will think about the staff, stocking, sorting, picking and packing the tea to ship to the store. There may be a forklift in this contemplation so I will have all the people involved with that vehicle too.

And how did the tea get to the warehouse? A manufacturer, where there were people involved with packing, quality control, sourcing, marketing, selling, etc. And what about the packaging…where did that all come from and where was that made? What resources were needed? Paper, trees, gum, printers…

And how did the tea get to the manufacturer? It wasn’t grown there so it had to be shipped, more vehicles, maybe even ships are involved now. Dock workers, and crane drivers and cranes, cargo ships, cargo containers; now I have steel workers and raw materials in mind! You can see how this can expand out really quickly and far and wide!

Finally, I will make it back to the grower, the people who planted the tea plants, looked after the plants, picked the leaves, sorted them and took them to market.

Now by the end of this I will have thought of thousands, maybe even millions of people by now. That is just the tea part of my cup of tea, I haven’t started with the water…milk; in my case plant milk and the ingredients and resources there, and if you take sugar….

If you were to expand that out to everything that you consume in one day, I am pretty sure that you will have traveled pretty much all around the world and touched millions of people with your thoughts and gratitude.

How did that go for you?

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