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Unfortunately, We All Can’t Save the World

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

I attended a photography conference about two weeks ago in Dubai, organised by a conservation awareness and wildlife photography team called Paws Trails Explorers. During the event, there were various topics brought to the attention of many, such as conservation, the illegal ivory trade, climate change, and ethical wildlife photography.

After such an incredible event, the after-effects did stay on (as they would). The desire to make an impact in the world is a strong one, and this desire is one that Simon Sinek, a key leadership speaker, suggests is one that exists with a fair amount of the millennial generation. We all want to make an impact in the world, and it has to be now.

Sometime back, I read an article on The Guardian that is titled “We won’t save the Earth with a better kind of disposable coffee cup”. The article discusses the reality of the scenario  which runs deeper; it’s not just about switching a plastic coffee cup for a disposable one, but an entire lifestyle change. One that we are no longer accustomed to. I believe that we are also ignorant of the seriousness of the situation. Even though statistics are provided urging individuals to take a second look, the numbers fly right through us.

Another article discusses the existence of palm oil in our everyday products and how we can avoid them. In order to obtain this ingredient, rainforests are destructed and the loss of this habitat is killing different kinds of animal species including the Orangutan. In this article specifically, one of the things that struck me is what was brought to attention about our everyday products. In order to conceal the existence of Palm Oil, there is jargon-like language used – who would know that there’s palm oil when there are words such as ‘glyceryl stearate‘?

Check out this video below talking about the current situation that the Orangutans are facing:

We’re in a battle against something bigger than us: corporations – sometimes ones that are larger than governments alone.

In my undergraduate degree we were studying ethics and cross cultural management, and our professor told us that we were going to look into a case study with Nestle – that would get us to stop eating chocolate.

This is the video that we were shown:

I can’t look at a Kit Kat the same way, that’s for sure. Then again, everyone has different priorities. I’m purely sharing these videos to reiterate the simple fact that there are corporations that we purchase from everyday and we don’t even realise the aftermath of a simple shopping decision.

Which brings me to my next argument.

I have a theory that as much as we all do want to make an impact with the world that we live in, we’re narcissistic enough to want to make that impact all by ourselves. Imagine being able to be the one person or leading person of a group who could make that difference?

I suppose the difficult question amongst this is, if we all want to change the world we live in, be it with climate change, or in conservation … Or in anything really:

Does it matter who makes the effort, as long as the efforts are true and intentional?

You see, if the planet that we are currently living on is in need of saving, every individual needs to make their effort, be it in any large or small-scale manner. Therefore, I’m also saying that since everyone is playing their part, it doesn’t matter “who does it better”, as long as the intention is genuine.

My mini-rant in all of this comes together to discuss a problem I fear: in our race for recognition, our attention is straying from the real issues at stake. I once heard a fellow friend tell me that in photography, there is very little scope to help others grow – simply because everyone wants to be the leader.

How can we save the world if we all want to be given recognition for it?

Or more importantly,

Why do we need recognition for something that we should be doing anyways?

I’ll end this blog by stating that I’m not a cynic enough to believe that we’re doomed for death and that the world will end on us because we’re all narcissistic. Of course not. Despite what my title says and the faint pessimism on the human race (no metaphor intended); if you are doing your part, that’s fantastic and I urge you to continue. Let’s not lose hope altogether. I just believe that we need to be racing to save the world and forego the recognition that may or may not come with it.

What do you think?

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