Anyone following my blog may have noticed the psychological journey I have been taking over the past few years, wanting to put something back into society and getting increasingly interested in social issues. You may also have read about my emotional crisis as I felt the reality of my own mortality during my fight with swine flu at the same time as I was questioning what my response to evil (ie, the massacre in Rwanda and the bombing of innocent children in Gaza) could and should be.
You may have spotted my moment of liberation when I came to understand that the evil in this world comes about from the indifference of the good, the lack of positive action and intervention by the strong, healthy, wealthy and free on behalf of the weak, sick, poor and persecuted people of this world.
This conviction gave me a renewed sense of purpose that I no longer have to ask myself 'why am I doing this?' when spending time addressing an issue of injustice or social need that may not directly have any benefit for myself. Life for me is one big test. I have been given a lot (health, intelligence, freedom, etc) - what am I going to do with that which I have been given? This is the game of life.
So with this renewed sense of purpose, following my brief encounter with the grim reaper, I started to make slightly different decisions. I started to to ask myself at every occasion whether I really was doing what I could and should do.
This started in the supermarket. I would have called myself an occasional conscious shopper - the odd Fairtrade packet of tea (especially when they were on offer!), mostly trying to avoid the caged eggs (especially when Happy Eggs were on their introductory price) and using reusable bags when I remembered (especially if they looked cool and had the 'Animal' logo on the side).
Now this has changed. Turned up to the supermarket without my bags, what did I do - not use any. I got a few funny looks wheeling a trolley out of the supermarket not in any bags and loading each individual item into my car - but at least my conscience was clear and I should remember my bags next time. I got a grilling from my husband after spending an extra 50p on eggs whilst we are having to borrow a huge amount of money to pay for an operation for a family member - this made me feel bad, so we have come to an agreement, if he wants eggs from caged hens then he'll have to buy them himself - I just can't bring myself to do that anymore.
Some guy had posted a suicide note on his blog that got indexed via MedWorm. I was emailed by one of the site visitors that was concerned about the issue and wondered if I could do anything to reach out to him. I did have his email so thought to send him one. Usually I would have left it at that, but my new conviction told me that wasn't enough, so I went out of my way to track down his details and tried to call him, as well as some people in his area that might be able to reach out to him. Last I hear he is still alive after a stay in hospital - don't know the exact details, or whether my small effort made the slightest bit of difference in the larger chain of events, but my conscience was clear that I had done everything I personally could when challenged to care.
I decided to take more of an interest in politics. I did not like politics, and had yet to meet a politician that I really liked or thought I could trust at all, so generally steered clear of them like many people do. I realised that this attitude is wrong. If I am to have a positive impact on this world then I must show more of an interest. Feeling motivated by Obama's victory, believing that there must be a few good people out there, I noticed a leaflet from a local guy running for a position as our local member of parliament (Luke Pollard) - thought he seemed quite a nice guy and contacted him to ask him some questions about politics and what motivates him. I figured that even if I couldn't quite bring myself to support a party, if I could at least find a single person in politics that I liked and could share some ideas with then that would be a start.
Luke brought to my attention the matter of a huge incinerator that is being proposed for less than 2 miles from where I live. I was horrified to learn that planning permission for it was due to be submitted in just a matter of weeks, and yet none of my neighbours knew about the matter.
So I met with Luke and a few other concerned residents, and next thing I'm building a website to raise awareness about the incinerator issue, giving out leaflets and knocking on doors. I was pretty open minded about the matter, the pros and cons of the proposal, but as I researched the issue I became more and more convinced that the issue of incineration is a huge one that urgently needs addressing by people worldwide.
Huge incinerators are proposed for the disposal of our waste all across the UK, and I understand in many other countries too. The accumulative effects of a large number of new incinerators, emitting dioxins that are persistent and bioaccumulative, as well as producing ash that is high in metals and other toxins that ends up in landfill anyway, have major implications for future generations for our entire planet.
So now my social action and conscience brings me back to the matter of health, which is what I am all about!
Will tell you more about my adventures shortly....(watch this space because I have a feeling that this is about to get very interesting)