This is very true. Continue reading
We can live consciously and thoughtfully about how we use paper. When you write a note, could you also reuse it again, and use the other side? When you receive a card, is there a portion of it that’s not written on, that could be used for a casual note to a roommate, spouse or friend? Or perhaps you could even use it for a to-do list. When you receive a box of a recent book or item of clothing, you can save it for holiday gifts. Let’s think creatively about our trees…
There are so many things that are packaged within paper, and the waste can be enormous. I think about the time, manufacturing costs, the transport, and the packaging when I look at individual salt packets. My guess is, forty granules of salt are contained within a tiny salt packet. And we’ve got to enclose it with paper, and then put it in another big package to transport it. There are so many ways that we use paper that are not allowing us to be effective stewards of our environment.
There was an interesting write-up of editorial letters in the Chronicle the other day. In it, one might think people were against plastic bags, and they were. But they were also against paper bags. All of the letters pointed towards using canvas. And many of them even stated we should feel guilty for using trees to transport our lunches, groceries, or other sundries. We’re facing quite a revolution here in being thoughtful about how and when we use our natural resources.
We can live consciously and thoughtfully about how we use paper. When you write a note, could you also reuse it again, and use the other side? When you receive a card, is there a portion of it that’s not written on, that could be used for a casual note to a roommate, spouse or friend? Or perhaps you could even use it for a to-do list. When you receive a box containing a recent book or item of clothing, you can save it for holiday gifts. Let’s think creatively about our trees.
I remember my very astute four year old niece, when I took her to the restroom, after we had gotten brunch. With two young nephews waiting in the restaurant, age 8 and 10, and as the sole aunt caretaker, I hurriedly pulled out two paper towels and dried my hands. “Shame on you, Aunt Pamela. They teach us in school that that’s a tree. You’re not supposed to do that.” Lindsey was absolutely right.
What if every time you picked up, or used a piece of paper, you envisioned a beautiful evergreen, redwood, or eucalyptus tree? Would we then be so quick to crumple it up? Would you crumple up a cherry blossom tree?
“You are here to make the world a better place because you’ve lived.”
– Sissy Spacek
Sissy Spacek is an American actress and singer. Her breakout role was as Carrie White in the horror film Carrie, for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination. Sissy was born in Texas, moving to New York after graduating from high school. She was greatly affected by the death of her eighteen-year old brother Robbie in 1967. In total, she has been nominated for an Oscar six times, and won for Best Actress in 1980 for her role as country star Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. Sissy is married to production designer and art director Jack Fisk, and has two daughters, Schuyler and Madison.
Dag Hammarskjold was such a wonderful model of what the U.N. can be and do. As Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961, Hammarskjold was known for his unrelenting energy in striving to create fairness, harmony, peace and collaboration in many corners of our world. He represented hope and reconciliation for so many.
Hammarskjold flew around the world to try to help so many countries needing support–and independent of whether there was an economic interest there, as it should be. He acted as a force for the U.N., representing fair involvement for all countries: for example, during one Arab crisis in 1958, the U.S. and Britain sent troops to help Lebanon and Jordan. But Hammarskjold was able to get removal of these troops, and one-sided involvement in the crisis, to stop. He then brokered Egypt lifting its blockade of Syria (which would not join the Arab League.)
In the 1950s he helped obtain the release of U.S. airmen held captive in China. In approaching the Suez Crisis, when Egypt nationalized the canal, Hammarskjold was able to broker French, British and Egyptian collaboration to keep it open. Meanwhile, Israel attacked Egypt and the peace process was upset. With Mr. Hammarskjold’s leadership, U.N. Forces were able to maintain a peaceful solution until a longer term solution was reached. Laos faced extreme danger and he was able to place UN representatives there, which provided watchful protection. He became part of a very longterm process against apartheid, meeting several times with the Union of South Africa and striving to open up attitudes of equality and fairness regarding race.
Hammarskjold’s last challenge was the crisis in the Congo where violent civil war was ensuing. Here he had brokered leaders to meet in neutral territory to resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, his plane was shot down and he did not survive.
Dag Hammarskjold was mourned by the world. He was seen as an extremely strong leader led by principles; absolutely tireless and needing little sleep. It was as if he were “on call” for the world.
“The world in which I grew up in was dominated by principles and ideals…I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country or humanity. This sacrifice required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions.”
Hammarskjold also created a meditation room or peace room in the U.N. It is a place only for thoughts, no words, and embraces all types of prayers. There is a stone in the middle of the room with nothing on it, and yet a shaft of light shines directly there. It is dedicated as an altar to harmony and freedom that is worshipped in many forms, by different countries and peoples, in many varied ways all over the world.
In many emerging nations, children are starving and dying due to lack of clean water. As a “developed” nation, it certainly doesn’t seem that advanced for us to be getting water for free. Meanwhile, two million people in the developing world are dying every year because they can’t access clean water.
Maybe we won’t have water fountains in the future.
It doesn’t make sense. If there is a limited, precious resource, why should it flow freely to those who have the most access to it? And at the same time, be so costly to others who need it most?
I think we should have to buy our water, bottled or fountain. It’s a cherished, expensive and rare commodity. Quite soon, and even by certain nations, water already is the new diamond.
The diamonds which are jewels are high end commodities, which are optional. Yet water is not a “high-end commodity” that we can go without.
Our society is now realizing that the most prized and honored possessions in our world are things that we actually cannot possess… Water is used, captured again, recycled in nature, and used again. Unlike diamonds, it can’t fit in our jewelry box, where we take it out whenever we so desire. Its beauty rests in its necessary part of our day to day.
Its beauty rests in the continuation of life.
“If I can say anything to you, it is to invite you to look deeply and recognize the real enemy. The enemy is not a person. That enemy is a way of thinking that has brought a lot of suffering for everyone.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Anything negative — is not from a person.
Radical thinking? It shouldn’t be. If we view the enemy as simply a thought and not a person, we depersonalize it. It’s temporary, changeable. And we allow the person to grow beyond it, rather than be it.
We can then eliminate personal offense, and work constructively towards a solution.
Look at the Why
If something seems to be negative, we can encourage ourselves to look at “the why.” Why might someone think, or take action, in this way? This offers us an opportunity to develop empathy. Perhaps this person—let’s call her Jeanine—came from a difficult circumstance or has been hurt.
It’s not Jeanine who is “bad,” but the experiences which occurred in her life which impacted her. It’s those events that led to the thinking and action behind negativity.
So Jeanine’s identity is not “Prejudice”, “Anger” or “Hurt”:
The most beautiful thing about this is the following.
She can change.
Allow her to do so. Wouldn’t we all wish to be forgiven for a past action?
Every day we can begin again. We can embrace a new experience, a fresh purity, allowing us and others to live to our fullest.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and Zen master. He is a well-known poet, writer and peace activist. A native of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War he helped found the “engaged Buddhism” movement, combining the contemplative practice of the monastery with active ministry to victims of the conflict. He founded the School of Youth Social Service, a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and a Vietnamese peace activist magazine.
During a trip to the United States, Thich Nhat Hanh persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War; King subsequently nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Thich Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.
Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of more than 85 books on mindfulness and peace. He founded the Plum Village community in France, a Buddhist community in exile. He continues to live and work at the Plum Village, and leads retreats worldwide on “the art of mindful living.”