Becoming the change you wish to see

By Haley M. Walker |

Gandhi once wrote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” While these 10 words are now common in society’s book of trite quotations and are often printed on cards, mugs and bags, it has been my observation that we have not realized the weight that these words really have and the true intention and direction that they should carry. My revelation about the disregard for these words has recently emerged out of watching environmental activism become the latest trend, instead of the active revolution that it should be. Action and self participation is necessary for any major change to happen, and instead we are only wearing the change without living it ourselves.

This summer, I was witness to a protest against rising gas prices, the usage of oil as a source of fuel, and offshore drilling. As I watched the people organize, complete with pickets and smiles, I wasn’t paying attention to what their signs said, but instead how they arrived. The same people that held signs that said things like “No more oil,” and “Solar Fuel” pulled into the parking lot driving large SUVs and even a Harley, obviously using and being supported by the source of their protest. There wasn’t a hybrid or electric vehicle driven. I found this intriguing and of course ironic. While their signs spoke of discovering and using more environmentally-friendly ways of fuel, their actions demonstrated patronage for their supposed antithesis. Furthermore, while they stood out on a major highway, cars flew by also supporting their cause. In fact, I almost had to laugh at the paradox of a man in a Hummer honking in support.

While I realize that it is almost impossible for people not to drive these days, I believe that it is especially important for people advocating for such changes to stand as a living example to others of what they desire. I praised these people for standing outside on a summer day in Florida and trying to bring awareness to serious issue on today’s environmental agenda, however I wondered if words and bodies standing on the side of the road would ever hold as much power and influence to others as seeing someone individually make the transformations themselves.

Aside from this one intimate happening, another, more widely pronounced example of this comes from the fact that major corporations are benefiting from this eco-furor. I think its safe to call anything a trend when Wal-Mart and Target are profiting from our desire for shirts that say “Green is the New Black.”

It is apparent that the number of people fashionably endorsing environmental awareness is not equal to those that are actually participating in it. With observations such as these, my heart has sunk further with the realization that this environmental trend that I was originally so happy to see spreading, seems to be emerging more and more as a societal, popularity quest, comparable to the way something like knee high socks spreads through a high school hallway.

Although I may sound as if I am making too many overwhelmingly cynical generalizations, I am also cognizant that there are those out there honestly making the necessary changes to help preserve this planet.

There is no doubt that there are common people becoming enlightened and making positive changes in their lives.

This can also be seen everyday. However, my own recent observations demonstrate a cliché reminder that actions speak louder than words, and that we need to start performing and becoming these changes we want to see, instead of just advocating and advertising them.

After all, we wouldn’t want to disappoint Gandhi, ourselves or more importantly the future generations of this world that will deal with the environmental decsions that we choose to make today.

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