You only live once – is that enough? – Julian Eldridge

So here’s the question. How do you get people to care about any future other than their immediate own?

Let’s be brutally frank. The way society, or more critically its economics, function doesn’t make it easy for most of us to see past our last mortgage repayment or that first bank statement showing we’re now pensionable. You can put much of it down to that oft heard proverb, truism, cliché or whatever you want to call it, “You only live once.” Usually when those four words turn up in a conversation someone’s about to justify their latest self indulgence.

We’re flying off to Papua New Guinea for a fortnight. Well, you only live once.”

I’m thinking of trading in the Volvo for soft top Merc. Well you only live once.”

I’ve always wanted to fish for Marlin in the Caribbean. Well, you only live once, right?”

Not being a man of faith, each of us having just the one life has long been my perceived reality. But the more I consider the human condition the less satisfying I find the single existence hypothesis.

Of course, physically, there’s only one of me. It’s just the one me who gets up and has breakfast; checks his emails; complains about the unsolicited ones whilst using them as an excuse not to do anything more productive; turns on the TV for the weather when looking out of the window would have furnished all the relevant info. Only I am agonising over the grammatical accuracy of this blog.

And yet…..well there’s a whole other me out there really. Several other “me’s” in fact and they’re all living, and impacting on, other lives. There’s another me who’s thoughtless disposal of a plastic water bottle has contributed to the pollution on some far off beach. There’s a me that didn’t care enough about equality to notice a hundred thousand deaths from malnutrition and yet another who wants the Earth to swallow up all those loony religious fundamentalists. So “you only live once” has to be a two dimensional outlook at best. At worst it allows us to ignore the full impact of our existence. Allows us to pursue the bliss of ignorance.

It’s not some sublime enlightenment to come to realise that the one life each one of us inhabits isn’t the only one that matters. It should be pointed out early on, maybe during our education or in the law of the land, that much of what’s good about our own present was secured by someone else’s past lived right.

So this green blogging thing. Will it matter? Will wanting my present to contribute to someone else’s better future actually have half a chance of doing just that? Well let’s give it a go anyway.

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