A concept in the yoga practice that I find most appealing is self-responsibility. In order to improve our well-being, we need to stop pointing our finger at the world and take a look at what is happening inside us. The fact that life is tough at times is not denied, but precisely because life can be tough because life is unpredictable, we need to learn to stand our ground and do our best through storms.
I am a mum and a teacher, and I have been reflecting a lot about the youth movement that is going on to save the environment. I think it is great that a young girl has taken the initiative to bring awareness among children and adolescents about the challenges our natural environment is facing because of years and years of unconscious use and misuse of resources and uncontrolled development of cities and industry.
What worries me, is kids and adolescents learning to point their fingers by blindly going out on the streets, especially in countries like Norway without even knowing who the ‘bad guy’ is.
I know many countries in the world need to put the conservation of the environment higher in their priority list, I know the Norwegian government could do much better than they already do. I think marching and protesting is good, but I don’t think it is good enough.
As a teacher, I think that I can support students striking and going out on the streets to protest only if they are knowledgeable, and see the whole picture. They need to set this movement in context and know exactly what they are asking for. I cannot accept empty words like “We are marching for the environment”. How does the environment benefit from my students and my kids skipping school and going out on the streets and yell words they don’t even understand?
Consumerism is a known word in rich countries like Norway. Almost everybody nowadays has to have a certain amount of things. As a mum, I am often trying to find the right balance between educating conscious kids by reflecting on what they want and what they actually need, and not raising super alternative kids that don’t fit in. I have heard so many times parents say they just have to give in because everybody has this or has that. I admire those parents that don’t give in. I have some students in middle school that don’t have a smartphone, and even though I know they do think it sucks, they still have friends and live a meaningful life. The smartphone is just an example, but maybe we can spend more time with our kids reflecting before buying.
We adults get carried away too. We want the house, and the cabin (and maybe even two cabins), and the car(s), and the boat, the trips to faraway places at least twice a year, the clothes, the full equipment for every little hobby we start, etc, etc. Maybe we too need to reflect on how much we want and how much we actually need.
Going back to the idea of self-responsibility, yes, let’s demand from our authorities to have better policies to protect the environment, but in addition to going out there and point our fingers, let’s take a close look at our lifestyle and start making some changes. Let’s get a bit uncomfortable, eat less (or no) meat, buy less, teach our children to need less. Look at what we buy, where it comes from and investigate the impact its production has on the environment. Take our family out to nature and teach them to respect it.
Let’s allow this youth movement to open our eyes to what we do and reflect on the changes we can make to contribute to save the environment. Don’t allow this movement to become another way to escape from our responsibility.