Monday, 6 January 2020

Environment Monday - An epiphany on the epiphany!

"The lights going off, turned a light on".  Have you ever had a moment of complete clarity? The term in Greek for such a moment is 'Epiphany'. Yesterday was the feast of the Epiphany, so I suppose it was only fitting that it was a day for such a moment. Let me explain. We are laying our planet to waste and the main reason is that we are turning fossil fuels to create electricity. Many Londoners took to Parliament Hill in Hampstead to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve. The view is spectacular, but ask yourself, how much of the light you see being produced in our metropolis is actually serving any purpose at all? In fact how much of the electricity produced globally is completely wasted. Ask yourself in your home, how many lights are on in empty rooms? How many TV's blaring out to empty rooms. How many heaters heating rooms where no one will be sitting for many an hour? How many empty offices have the lights on all night? How many shops have illuminated signs at 3am in the morning when no one is around? All of this is causing the production of electricity that is being pumped into the atmosphere. How necessary is any of this. 

Yesterday there was a power cut in Mill Hill Broadway. As I do every week, I attended mass at the Sacred Heart Church. Unlike every other week, there was no electric lighting in the Church. The only light was from a few candles. As it was a dull, grey day, the church was almost dark (the mass was at 10am). This particular mass is the children's service. Usually it is noisy as young children soon get bored and start seeking stimulation. But it was strangely quiet. I realised that the darkness was having a soothing and calming effect on all present. Despite not having hymn books, the congregation sang louder than usual. It seemed that everyone was listening to readings more intently, and responding more vocally. Although I attend mass, I am not particularly religious and my mind soon started wandering and I got to thinking that it was a far more pleasant experience than usual. It was calming and there was a feeling of spirituality and togetherness that is often missing. I thought to myself that all of the coal we are buying to create all of the electricity is not making us happier. Electricity means that we can get what we want, when we want it. Unlike our forefathers, who had to gather fuel to start fires to boil water, we have gas and electricity to give us hot water on tap. Our forefathers had to think of ways to keep themselves entertained, we switch on the TV, or Radio or 'surf the net'. Has this made us happier or saner? Seeing some of the deranged blathering of certain individuals on Twitter recently, one has to wonder if such instant social media tools are doing anything at all for us? Of course many people get huge enjoyment from such services, but it does bring us into contact with some very toxic people and ideas. I've no problem with anyone sharing their opinions on Twitter, but what I realised yesterday is just how wonderful it can feel to be with other real people in a calm and peaceful setting. We all need to recharge our batteries from time to time. 

When I was first learning guitar, I used to sit in my shed, with a lit candle, practicing songs, scales and chords. I started doing this as if played indoors, it would disturb my parents. With no distractions and nothing else to do (it was 1978), I soon found that this was the perfect way to calm down and improve myself. Yesterday I realised that this is something I need to reconnect with. 

The sad truth is that we are wasting so much electricity, on unnecessary lighting and on toxic social media and it doesn't make us happy. Our society is built on instant gratification. What we have forgotten is that the things we appreciate most are the things we work for.  I hadn't made a New Years resolution until that moment yesterday, but I have now. My resolution is to turn off the lights when they are not needed and to spend more time practicing my guitar and in quiet contemplative meditation. I am also purging my life of negative energy, which means ignoring, blocking or unfriending people on social media who are full of negative energy and hate. If we all do that, there will be a few people screaming bile in empty chambers until they realise no one is listening. That is there choice, mine is happiness and peace. What is yours?

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