big pictures

The expression goes that comparisons are odious – or are they? Perhaps they serve the purpose of highlighting a different perspective.

The world is now deep into the second year of a global pandemic and conspiracy theories still abound – as do the multitude of social media posts around the issue. Everyone has an opinion, that much is very obvious, and they have a right to express that opinion. But is there not a responsibility to consider the result of doing so? And this is where “actions” having “consequences” and odious comparisons got me thinking. Just how do we want our society to function?

With so many motor vehicles on the road, there are laws which govern speed limits and appropriate behaviour for the driving population. Stop sign or red traffic light? Bring your car to a halt. If you choose not to … well, you are likely to get hit by the vehicle of a fellow motorist observing the rules of the road.

The law requires drivers to wear seatbelts for safety but people could choose not to do so. The consequence of that action – could potentially be a fine for disobeying the law or, worst case scenario, severe injury or death should that motorist be involved in a car crash.

The same goes for wearing helmets on motorcycles or even bicycles. Is the comparison of wearing not wearing a seatbelt relevant to choosing to get vaccinated odious or is it a good analogy which might force someone to reconsider their stance? Is it indicative of individual rights trumping those of the collective or society as a whole?

Climate change is an accepted fact. There is no denying that this planet is warming up due to excessive CO² emissions and the extreme weather such as floods, droughts, fires, melting polar ice caps and glaciers is a consequence of it all. Watch a news bulletin and you can’t escape a story about record wildfires in Sweden burning land which is usually covered in permafrost, crippling drought in India when the monsoon rains should be falling, unprecedented downpours in Europe with flood levels higher than any recorded in 400 years!

It’s all exhausting! And everyone is already fatigued around this time of year. Work and home life have been tough for so many people for so long. There is a danger of being in a bubble too long: a personal bubble of “family only” to stay healthy. It’s also necessary to go about the business of living life, of being aware of a bigger picture – but also the part that every individual can play in that big picture.

Actions have consequences. This festive season, be as responsible as you possibly can in whatever sphere it may be. Observe the rules of the road. Think twice about gunning the motor to make it through the intersection on amber. Consider using a ride share service when attending a social gathering – because “just the one drink” could put you over the legal limit. Think about casually flicking that cigarette butt away – or leaving litter around after a picnic or trip to the beach. Be aware that individual choices go hand-in-hand with accountability.

We should all try to be a little kinder and more caring, more considerate of how interconnected we are and how much nicer the world would be if we were part of a caring community. It’s “bigger picture” stuff – and it really starts with our own individual contributions.