I had to stop watching the mainstream news. I turned off my notifications, stopped doom-scrolling. I closed my eyes, put my fingers in my ears. My heart couldn’t take any more, it was breaking with shame and anger, guilt and despair at what my fellow humans are doing to each other, to our planet.
I’m a writer, a creator of worlds. I tell stories and spread hope. Behind my closed eyelids, I started to imagine the world in which I would like to live. A wild place with easy access to nature. A place of equality, where everyone’s needs are met, yet no one is taking more than can be sustained. A place of abundance, where gifts are freely given and fully appreciated. I imagined a world of resilient systems and natural processes, close knit communities forming mutual support networks, flourishing biodiversity and robust ecosystems.
Some would call this a utopian dream.
But take the time to look and you will find seeds of positivity scattered across the landscape. I see red kites soaring across skies which were once devoid of this majestic bird. I volunteer at a community garden and help grow organic vegetables for refugees. I support a campaign to protect the local coastline from damaging fishing activity, hold on to the vision of kelp regrowing and cod, plaice, lobster, angel sharks, cuttlefish and others once more abundant in our waters.
I recognise that there is a need to highlight the terrible atrocities which are occurring, the injustices and destruction, but when you only look at the darkness, that is all you see; only the greed and corruption of global corporations, the petty blame games of politicians, the housing estates covering meadows, the fear and anger.
However, there are so many examples of great projects all over the world, examples of kindness and generosity, of togetherness and compassion. In the UK, reintroduced beavers are protecting homes from flooding, increasing tourism and creating diverse habitats. In the Antarctic, numbers of humpback and blue whales are increasing. The River Thames is home to seals, dolphins and over a hundred species of fish, an incredible recovery from the 1950’s when it was declared biologically dead. A single food waste redistribution charity intercepted nearly two million meals over just a three-month period last year, saving perfectly edible food from the bin to feed those who would have gone without.
I have learned to open my eyes to these remarkable stories, to listen to their words. This is what I choose to focus on and my heart lifts, is filled with warmth and inspiration. This is what I want to hear about, to learn more about, to be a part of. I want to be one of these brave, strong, quiet heroes of our world. I read about the school girls who have sued the Ecuadorian government for allowing pollution of their homes in the Amazon. I learn about the communities which have worked together to triple the population of the European bison over the last couple of decades. I hear about the lady in Los Angeles who offers free haircuts to the homeless.
Filled with optimism, I feel motivated to act, to do something, however small, whatever I can, to be a part of this great momentum. With a smile, I tell my friends about the increasing number of lynx in Europe, the acres of land reforested, the amount of coral reefs protected. Inspired, I join my neighbours in planting trees in the local park, I dust the cobwebs off my bicycle and dig a pond in my back garden.
With a shudder, I remember the anger, the impotence and the fear that filled me; the despondency which left me withdrawn and immobilised. Now, I am able to see some bright sparks of hope in the future. I’m not unaware of the challenges nor the difficulties we face. I’m not blindly optimistic in assuming that everything will be fine because if we don’t act now, it won’t.
But I’m choosing love over fear. I’m choosing positivity as my guide.
Since I’ve stopped doom-strolling and started utopia-scrolling, I’ve learned to appreciate natural wonders and be grateful for human kindness. When I do come across a topic which frightens or infuriates me, I channel that energy into envisioning solutions. I’ve let go of the fear and turned the anger into action.
Whatever your passion, that’s your power. Whatever frustrates you, that’s where you can make a difference. Be it animal rights, habitat damage, inequality, music, birds, gardening – use your skills to paint a mural, write a poem, organise a protest, make a bee hotel, join a litter pick. The choice is yours.
When we’re planning the future in which we want to live, if we focus on the negative then that is what will manifest. We need ideas, suggestions, solutions which will bring about a brighter future. We need visions of hope to guide us forwards.
Kathryn Nelson is a writer of honest fantasy, genuine heroines and wellness wisdom. Her two published novels deal with spiritual development and environmental protection, whilst her blog uses compassionate fiction to explore nature based solutions.
Act Now: Don’t let fear stop you. You can make a difference. Working together with others, you can make even more of a difference. Imagine the future in which you want to live and take one small step at a time towards it.