Changing for Benefit

Since my time here in Portugal I’ve come to a certain understanding, and that is that in this time of ‘great awakening’ there will be many that are still happy to continue in their old ways not giving thought to the consequences of their actions. The fact is though, luckily, that generally, when great change occurs it’s usually a minority that has taken action in order to effect it.

My belief is that most people, sadly, will not wake up, however that does not mean that they will not be entitled to live their life just as freely as anyone else. I’m of the idea that what’s required is for the wiser among us to act responsibly and always stand up for what we know is right and to impress upon people the power they really have (i.e. share our understanding on how they are accountable!) and to help them by providing alternative solutions in place of any destructive habits and practices.

The understanding that’s developed within me is that a lot of people will only change if they see the benefit in changing – benefit to themselves that is. It sounds kind of sad, but that’s how I see it. I’d love to think that everyone will just ‘wake up’ and start concerning themselves with the consequences of their actions, but I think that there is a lot of people that just want to live out the rest of their life without it having to be ‘muito complicado’. Having to think through the cause and effect of each of their actions could be asking far too much of them (reminds me of the discussion I had with the man in the store on burning off). Added to this there is also the social stigma that imprisons them into following certain ways that are not to be questioned. Let me give you a small example:

I asked one lady in the village why she plowed her olive orchard (as they all do) and she said to me that she felt shame if it wasn’t ‘limpo’ (clean). To have weeds growing was seen as something ‘dirty’.

So back to the topic of ‘benefits’.

I believe that one of the biggest changes that will happen with respect to ‘economics’ will be in the creation of social businesses that act for the benefit of nature and (subsequently) the community. If people are provided with a better way where they can clearly see how it will benefit them then it will facilitate a ‘turning away’ from destructive practices or habits and their energy will then be focused on supporting a more positive outcome.

One of the aims (eventually) for the web site that I’m working on is to create some kind of ‘fair share forum’ or perhaps initially just a page where social enterprise ideas that can benefit rural communities here in Portugal can be shared. Ideas that can help to shift the focus from practices that are destructive to practices that contribute to the regeneration of soil and forest – which is what I’m really concerned with.

Here is just one example of the kind of ideas I’m talking about:

We know that a common practice here is burning off organic matter. It is wasteful, hazardous and at times very dangerous. So the question is how can we prevent this from happening and encourage farmers and the like to avoid doing this? I would like to explore whether a service can be provided whereby organic matter could be picked up and taken away for free, or perhaps even offer a clearing service at a very low cost and taking away the organic matter. If a viable solution could be determined then wouldn’t it stand to reason that it would make more sense for them to act in this direction (since it is so much easier)? That organic matter is valuable. It has value and can be used and made into a small industry that can support regeneration of soil and forest. Some might say that’s not enough to create the change, but perhaps if in each local county a reliable and guaranteed service could be offered then local council would stand by it and help to campaign for it’s benefit, especially if it can help to provide employment.

I would like the focus of it to be on simple and viable solutions where people can:

  • offer ideas for co-creative development.
  • share what they might be doing already but need help with.
  • share what they are doing successfully already – to inspire others.

What I would really like to see become available and shared is simple, grass roots, ‘on the ground’ solutions that can empower anyone to take action and use it to sustain themselves – make a living! This is something that is a big problem here in Portugal. It would be good to see ideas shared that can be replicated easily throughout other localities. Ideas that can help to promote a new economy based on localised and decentralised models (I hope that makes sense).

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

– E.F. Schumacher
With ‘right intention’ and co-creativity there is no end to ideas that can blow our minds wide open.
I was looking for a video on TED about a guy who was showing how little it actually takes to create change on a global level and how humans across the globe are beginning to respond to the global situation in the same way an immune system does with the body. I couldn’t find that one unfortunately so if anyone knows it please share. For now I’ll leave you with something a little more sobering.

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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