save by serving

“We cannot, of course, save the world, because we do not have authority over its parts. We can serve the world though. That is everyone’s calling, to lead a life that helps.”
-Barry Lopez

What an overwhelming thought: the idea that the world needs saving. How many people stop dead in their tracks because they cannot wrap their heads around this notion? We face an almost endless list of problems: global economic collapse, terrorism, climate change, overpopulation, water scarcity, poverty, species extinction…etc. How do we prioritize? Where do we even begin?

I will begin by admitting that I do not have a clue. When I begin to consider all of the issues that our generation is already facing, I cannot even fathom the struggles that the next is going to be confronted with. Time and time again I have contemplated these ideas, and I am always left with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness; I am just one person, trying to save the world.

But we cannot save the world. Of course we can’t. How many people have tried and failed? Should we just give up and adopt the mindset that we are all in serious trouble anyways? What is the point in even trying? The endless list of problems exists because we are not capable of solving any of them, right?

But as Barry Lopez describes, conversation is the essential foundation of progress. Action comes later, but in order to address and act upon the issues that we are currently facing, we must re-establish communication that has been lost. Not only human-to-human, but also human-to-Earth and to all things that have a voice but whom we ignore. By restoring open conversation, our understanding of our role on Earth and beyond will grow and we will find clarity on how to “lead a life that helps”.

We cannot save the world, but we can serve it, we can grow to understand and appreciate the gifts that we have been blessed with and safeguard them, the gifts of life, prosperity, love, happiness, health, diversity, nature…etc. By cherishing the good, we can conquer the bad. All of our lives depend on it.