Place your ear to the earth and listen
She has stories far beyond our city,
truths awaiting our attention
Ask the trees about their childhood
Do they remember the age at which
they could see over their sisters?
Speak with the natives of the sky
Can the cranes still name
each one of their neighbors?
Survey every Saturday morning
and see if each girl would color
her idea of rest the same
How curious a thing
that life, continually twirling,
flows on so far from ourselves
yet within our whisper
the language of our actions
can be heard ‘round the world
The ripple effect. It can be equally as hopeful as it is harrowing. Just as the dreams of one can inspire the courage of many, the actions of another can harm without ever knowing it. In so many areas of life, we see the impact of the small but gradual. We listen to our words build others up, watch habits of healthy living change our very bodies, and feel the care we give to our minds help heal our souls.
As women who operate with such purpose, persistent intention is no new language to us. But what about the habits we don’t witness the direct impact of? From where we grab a cup of coffee to the shoes we daily pull on our feet, our choices speak a message to the rest of the world. As sustainable food advocate and food systems expert, Anna Lappé, challenges,
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
As consumers, our first thought in buying anything is often, “How much will this benefit me?” Listen, there is no guilt in that. It is simply the reason we usually spend in the first place. But as our global conversation grows, it is time we look at the ripple effects spreading with each purchase we make. For our thoughts to expand beyond, “What can this do for me?” and stretch to, “What (and who) else will this decision affect?” For us to become more Conscious of the world around us.
Especially in all that demands us to be present, it is a deep challenge to shift our focus to the long-term. But like anything else that takes practice to create habit, so does asking more questions. It is our responsibility to go beyond the initial excitement of finding a ten dollar t-shirt, and wonder at whose expense is it so cheap. This same principle can apply down to the very things we discard (where does it all really go?). In the case of fair-trade, sustainability, ethical practices, and so much more - the “out of sight, out of mind” mindset is perhaps the most dangerous one to have.
While it is easy to become quickly overwhelmed in the adjustments required, let us truly take heart in the nature of this ripple effect. Be reverent of how a small choice can affect so much, but encouraged that a small change can do the same. It is the very kind of fervor that fought for human rights. The same sound that sparks you, yes you, to pick up your passions and run. It is the ability already within us. May we make sure all the ripples we add to the water are only spreading good.
Photos by: Amanda Gallant for Yellow Co.