The world is watching as Australia burns. So, what can I do?

Welcome to 2020! It’s most definitely an apocalyptic way to start the new decade.

As I write this blog here in Melbourne, a thick blanket of smoke has rendered the CBD sky-line indiscernible. The sky is ashen grey. There’s not a hint of blue or a cloud in sight and the sun has gone into hiding. The smoke from the fires all around this beautiful country is permeating my home, my clothes, my mouth and nostrils. It’s a truly eerie experience and it’s a challenge to stay focused and keep writing.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m only dealing with second-hand smoke. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for those on the front-line who are directly impacted by these devastating fires. My thoughts and prayers go out to all.

If there’s one upside to the fires however, it’s that millions of us humans are now being forced to wake up and make change happen. We’re now asking ourselves the most important questions, both big and small.

Big questions like… Will we see these fires and other forms of devastation continue across the world?  Is this the beginning of the end of the world as we know it? Are we in the midst of an apocalypse that will see the death of the old and the rebirthing of new systems, the feminine and co-operative communities that will better serve humanity and Mother Earth? What does this mean for me, my family and future generations? What can I do to help build this new world? What is the big-picture project I’ll commit to that will be most meaningful to me and make most impact?

My own big-picture project was born out of the blog I wrote at the end of 2019. A seed of an idea was planted in my heart and it’s already starting to germinate and take shape.

For many however, it’s just too overwhelming to contemplate these big questions right now, so they turn to the smaller question. It’s a smaller question, but one that millions of Australians and citizens across the world are asking right now.

What can I do to help?

There is a freneticism to people’s offerings of  help; to send food, to donate, to sew mittens for badly burned wildlife, to do anything that might be immediately helpful. But what if the greatest way to help right now, was to commit to helping fire-affected communities in the future?  What if we were to take a more considered, long-term approach? Maybe the best help we could offer will be in one month, twelve months or even years down the track, when communities may need it the most?

The very best of humanity is on full display right now, but where will it be in months and years from now? That shall remain to be seen.

If we feel a sense of urgency to help, perhaps the best we can do is to actually change the way we live every single day now? It might be tempting to think I’ll do it when our country gets back to ‘normal’ (which it never really will and what’s ‘normal’ anyway?) But truly, why wait? Let’s all get started now!

There’s so many things we can each do. What about offering your spare bedroom on Airbnb Open Homes? Ever considered giving up your car and bike-riding, car-sharing or Shebah (an Australian all-women ride-share company) instead? Why not change your internet browser to Ecoasia and search the web to plant trees? What about starting a local community garden to grow your own vegetables or eating at socially responsible restaurants such as Lentil as Anything & Moroccan Soup Bar? Donate to bushfire appeals sure, but what about Wikipedia, the truly independent source of information? Is now the time to ensure your super is ethically invested or change your bank to a socially responsible bank such as Bank Australia? Or why not book your next holiday in a bushfire affected township or with a Certified B Corporation such as Intrepid Travel? Or take up your own buy-nothing-new challenge and join your local Good Karma Network to swap and share things instead, and if you don’t have one, perhaps you can start your own? Maybe try meditation, yoga, dance and bush-walks and send positive vibes of love and healing to the country and the world as you do it?

These are in fact, just some of the things I’ve done/am doing.  Each day I wake up and ask myself ‘what will I do to help today’? It keeps me active and feeling useful and it helps me overcome the many moments of grief and despair. I suspect that it might just be the best thing us parents can practically do with our kids too, particularly as they may be feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the state of the world.

What if we were all to take up the challenge to do one thing to help every single day? I’d love to hear what you’re doing at home and work.

If not you, who? If not now, when?