An anticlimactic journey
It was December 30th– 2 days before the end of 2019. My friends and I decided to savour the remaining Christmas vibes together by going to a new mall, known for its stylish yet classic Christmas decorations at the “rooftop garden”. As we were on the final escalator ride to the garden in great anticipation for what was ahead of us, I took a glimpse of people on my left, who seemed to have finished their “pilgrimage” and were on their way out. Their giggles and demure smiles looking at the photos on their phones made me all the more excited.
I took a deep breath and stepped forward. In front of me was a tacky pool of “gold”. Trees were entangled by golden Christmas lights, overshadowed by a preposterous amount of ornaments. Tree trunks were visibly covered by cardboard paper, staged in the middle of benches. The garden was encircled by skyscrapers and flooded with clashing perfume scents. Men and women alike posed themselves to perfection in front of the Christmas trees.
Seeing and hearing
Visitors fervently instructed their friends to capture their most enchanting selves from the best angle, before carefully examining the photos and uploading them to Instagram. Having witnessed them go through an emotional roller coaster- from aggression to satisfaction, made me realize just how indulged we are with the likes and comments on social media. Aligning with trends has preceded true appreciation for things around us. In fact, people’s obsession with taking photos of the distasteful Christmas decorations is a clear indication of how we are blinded by trends, with our eyes shut and hearts closed. We are so engrossed with gaining popularity that we don’t even take the time to see for ourselves and listen to what our hearts have to say. We exhaust every opportunity to visit Instagram-worthy spots for the sake of the 500 likes, and we would have probably realized that we didn’t like it if only we “saw and heard”.
While we lose ourselves in popularity, we overlook nature. When was the last time you took note of nature’s hidden gems? The shady trees on the roadside, the vibrant flowers in the bushes, the chirping sounds of the birds. Probably a long time ago. That is because it is not on our Instagram-worthy agenda, and we would have noticed its inherent beauty if only we “saw and heard”.
As we are preoccupied with gaining popularity and fail to appreciate nature, both knowingly and unknowingly, we exploit nature to our own advantage. By irresponsibly using non-biodegradable plastics, gallons of water, and turning the A/C to full blast, we are killing the planet bit by bit each day. Precisely, because nature’s beauty is so underrated and we are preoccupied with vanity, we fail to see our actions all the while rejecting and ridiculing the consequences claimed by scientists.
Power of the volunteering band-aid
Our neglect and abuse of nature has caused catastrophes. Our once important ally in combating climate change – the Amazon Rainforest has suffered from irreversible damages. Australia, for one, has succumbed to an unprecedented wildfire crisis caused by climate change. Wildlife is threatened. Despair is enveloping the world.
Thanks to volunteers, local communities in Australia have been going full speed ahead to remedy the situation. Local organizations and NGOs are coordinating wide-scale voluntary activities, mobilizing volunteer firefighters and animal caregivers. At the same time, the government is educating its citizens on the proper ways of feeding refugee koalas, empowering individuals to give a helping hand when they see one.
Need for sustainable and collective actions
By not seeing and listening, humankind has singlehandedly imposed irreversible damage to our planet. Our world is on the brink of collapse. Volunteering like the Australians can help to stop the bleeding temporarily but it is through concerted effort, committed action-plans, and sustainable implementation that we can change the story. Saving the planet requires active collaboration between all stakeholders, and we have an important role to play. Small acts in our daily lives can make a huge difference. Start by seeing and hearing! That means observing your surroundings, submerging in nature’s beauty, taking note of your actions and its consequences. We must act now, or we will lose sight of verdant rainforests and melodies of bees humming, once and for all.
Photo Credits: Koala photo from LA times by Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times
IVolunteer International is a 501(c)3 tech-nonprofit registered in the United States with operations worldwide. Using a location-based mobile application, we mobilize volunteers to take action in their local communities. Our vision is creating 7-billion volunteers. We are an internationally recognized nonprofit organization and is also a Civil Society Associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications. Visit our profiles on Guidestar, Greatnonprofits, and FastForward.