Psychology has always been one of my interests growing up. I find human action, motivation, thoughts, and beliefs absolutely fascinating.
In this light, I am so grateful yoga landed on my path as it has served as a brilliant lens to explore my inner workings and the larger world.
One of the realities I have observed through my own life and the lives of others, is the concept of limitation.
We all have blind spots, and unlike what many traditions claim, there will never be a time or a state where we know or see it all.
The key, is that our limited state is not a problem to be solved as in reality it actually gives us the opportunity for further growth.
Limitations are often individually based like when someone doesn't recognize their passive aggressive behavior, when a person is occluded to the impact of their bad breath, or when debt keeps on mounting but we pretend everything is still on track.
While we all experience these blind spots they are not confined to the individual experience as society's become embroiled in mass delusion with relative ease.
Hitler was an expert in his crafting of such a narrow and limited view for the German people that they fell in line with all of his treacherous plans of genocide. In today's world, marketing companies are the driving force of using images and words to make us buy and believe certain things which are not always to our advantage.
The good news is that even with these broader cultural limitations often someone wakes up, a movement gets started and we see pockets of progress. Slavery was abolished, women can now vote, environmental issues began to be addressed in the early 70's and GLBTQ rights are slowly becoming a reality.
But wait, the guarantee is that there is always more limitation, so what are we not seeing?
It is an enormous blind spot which has been systematically ignored by corporations and politicians--and yes we the public are partly responsible.
Its been 25 years since scientists began to sound the alarm on increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is responsible for climate change.
Why hasn't much been done?
The fossil fuel industry is an obvious culprit, lack of political action is another, but the biggest reason brings us back to basic human psychology.
Researchers term it the "finite pool of worry." It basically reminds us that our animal brain--when it comes to this issue--is one of our most profound limitations.
Humans are designed to troubleshoot present moment emergencies, so anything that doesn't pose an immediate threat doesn't receive much attention.
This is the reason why in particular, Americans rank addressing climate change as one of their lowest priorities.
Carbon dioxide build up after all is invisible. Yes we've had some intense hurricanes and mind boggling typhoons and tsunamis, but they simply don't happen often enough or close enough to feel like an immediate threat.
A second psychological trick we play on ourselves is termed the "single action bias." When we take one step like recycling, voting for a green politician, or brining a recycled bag to the grocery store and then believe we have done enough. Small steps are important, but we have to do more!
Incase you just became depressed take a deep breath. Look at the opportunity before us. The gift of awareness is the ability to step back, slow down our reactions, take in the data, recognize our limitations, and step back in with renewed skillful action.
The reality is that change is possible. We can take on this enormous blind spot and stand up for what is right.
It only takes a few brave souls to help create a big shift as Maragaret Mead beautifully reminds us: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
September 21 is my birthday. International Day of Peace, and this year it is the start of the UN Climate Summit in NYC.
Most climate summits have yielded little concrete shifts, but there is hope. President Obama and the US EPA finally took some long needed steps to move us closer to action steps other countries have been taking, but each of our voices is needed.
I have never marched in anything, but on the 21st that is going to change.
Climate disruption disproportionately effects developing nations, people of color, and the young. What kind of world do I want to leave my nephew, little siblings, and my cousin's kids?
Shift can happen, but it requires us to recognize our limitation and act differently!
On September 21, march for possibility!
If you live in NYC or if you are looking for a local march check out http://peoplesclimate.org