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A Suggested 2020 New Year’s Resolution

January 3, 2020

I hope you had peaceful and meaningful holy-days, and that you are settling back into some kind of “normal” schedule, or will be soon once kids or you are back in school.

You may know I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions… at least ones that I or anyone actually continues to do ALL year long, and then into the future, of course.  Some of you may have previously read my blog with ideas around resolutions from back in January 2015.  If you haven’t, yet, clarified some resolution(s) for the year, do it now; it’s not too late (it’s never too late to do something good).  And yes, I had intended to write this before December 31, but… it’s never too late to do something good! 😊

Though it’s uncomfortable for me to write this, I’m actually going to suggest a very specific resolution that you could take on or add to the what you already are doing for the year:  if you still eat cow, stop.  

A couple months ago I read in the Atlantic about research that was published in May of 2017.  The researchers calculated that if, in 2017, everyone in the US switched to eating beans instead of cows, from that one action alone, we would have achieved 46-74% of the reductions needed to meet the carbon-emission reductions of the Paris Accord for 2020 (That’s NOW!).  Of course, President Trump had already backed the US out of that commitment even before this study was published.  

I kind of hope you had already heard about that research back in 2017, since I’m only marginally connected to the “news,” and it’s not surprising that it was under my radar till now, but if you are still eating cow, I hope that you hadn’t already known that.  

The main point to note in this research, besides the HUGE percentage of greenhouse-gas reductions that normal human beings could have effected, is that to get those results, really nothing else needs to change, just stopping eating cows, not all animals, just cow.  If people were to keep eating chicken, fish, pig, milk, eggs, etc., the greenhouse gas emissions still go down that much!  That was part of the calculation.  This dietary change is not nearly as radical as going vegan, or even vegetarian, and in my mind, it is therefore much more do-able, potentially even easy; for this, one “only” needs to overcome habit and possibly taste preference.  Going vegan or vegetarian, of course, would have an even greater, positive environmental impact, but this one “small” change can have a major impact all by itself.

We all saw the increased and massive burning of the Amazon rainforest back in the summer in Brazil, a country with yet another climate-denying president.  (How does a person who calls Climate Change a “hoax” become President when the large majority of the US and world population believes what the scientists are telling us?  I guess it’s because too many people don’t vote; I hope not you!)  We know the importance of the rainforest as the “lungs” of the Earth.  I hoped, but doubted, that everyone knew that that burning is the direct result of Americans’ desire for cheap cows to eat; that is information that is not so popular in the mainstream media and is easier, and in many cases, more convenient to ignore.  I had hoped that anyone who actually cared about taking action to counter the climate crisis would have seen the burning and immediately stopped eating cow and not just decried the fact and others’ inaction while seeing it on the news or social media.  I was encouraged when I heard about one of our son’s friends’ family doing getting off cow for this reason, so I hoped that they were not alone.  However I also know that the Amazon rainforest has been burning for decades for the SAME EXACT REASON, just that this past summer it was more square miles, more egregious and thus it got more press.  But maybe it finally had an impact on people?

Though I was hesitant to write this particular blog, besides caring about positive climate action, I was also motivated and encouraged to write it from Amma’s recent teaching when I was with her in Detroit back at Thanksgiving.  Someone asked her about what we should do as compassionate human beings in response to all the animal and planetary suffering that results from the meat industry.  Interestingly, almost all of her response was about how especially harmful raising cows for meat is to the natural environment, and I was reminded of the research I had previously read.

We do have to be honest, at least with ourselves, about climate change, something that we don’t really see in politicians on either side.  One side thinks their opinion trumps science and the other still largely holds to and proclaims, at least in Congress and some presidential candidates, a fantasy of reversing it, even though that idea has no scientific basis either!  The scientists are clear that climate change is a given and that it’s already happening; our chance to reverse it went away back in the early 80’s or so.  If we only open our eyes, we easily see its effects in our own climate experience and in what’s happening around the world.  The scientists also tell us that the rate of the change can potentially be slowed and its effects softened a bit, and though this may sound like bad news, any slowing or softening of the effects can have a huge impact in lowering the amount of eventual suffering we cause.  As human beings—as part of Nature—it IS important for us to remain mentally strong and to do what we can.

We obviously can’t wait for politicians (and definitely not businesses!) to lead the way, though thank God for local governments and the few businesses which are trying to do their small part!  But if there’s a single, relatively simple thing we can do that can have such a huge impact, I’m advocating for doing it!  This one change can have an even bigger impact than driving a more fuel-efficient car, choosing your bike as your preferred mode of transportation, vigilantly turning off lights, or even NOT showering.

In my job as yoga teacher, I aim at teaching toward Yoga/Union/Self-Realization/Awakening.  However, I never feel it is my job, and it is definitely not my desire, to wake people up, to make people be aware of what they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, be aware of.  I seek to wake myself up and to share tools and information that a person can choose to use toward awakening, or not.  I know that “everything in its own time” is the way Life goes.  

I also strongly agree with Amma when she says (SO many times over the years) that it’s very easy to wake up someone who is really asleep, but it’s very difficult, almost impossible, to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep, which all of us are, to varying degrees.  So I sometimes remind people in classes, if anything I said doesn’t appeal to you, just let it go.  If this information and these ideas are unappealing to you, go ahead and drop them, and carry on.  But if any of this resonates, please join me in looking as deeply as possible, reflecting in yourself and following what YOU feel guided to do, even if doing it feels a little uncomfortable.  When we follow the Inner Guidance, especially when it contradicts our surface desires, then we affirm to the Universe/the Divine/our True Nature that we are willing to follow IT above following our momentary, ego-based comfort.  If you’ve read this far, I assume and hope you are on-board for that even without me saying it.

May you be at peace.  May all beings be at peace.  May peace prevail on Earth.

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