MY PLAN WAS to run on the beach for an hour before dinner. 30 minutes south towards Cua Dai and turn around. But I soon discovered I couldn’t do it.
For everywhere I looked, all I could see was trash. Never in my life up until then, had I seen anything like it. About 12 feet ahead on my path, I saw a dead fish, and I knew that it had in some way or another been choked by or made sick by the trash. I broke down and decided to turn around, scanning the dunes as I ran, also covered in trash. Tears flooded my eyes so heavily, after wiping them away they were flooded again.
And I asked myself—what kind of world are we leaving our children? It is their given right—as it is ours—to be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water, eat food not covered in poison. For beaches to walk on not covered in trash.
I wondered if for those who live here near this beach, if they are so used seeing the trash that it is accepted in their mind’s eye as being apart the landscape. Surely not, but the impact of the shock—in fact all that I see and notice when I live or travel abroad—I must recognize as an artifact of growing up in a relatively privileged upbringing in quiet North American suburbia. As a nomad, I enjoy a certain freedom of being able to choose to live where I want to live, to shape my life as I choose to shape it. The majority of the people on this planet don’t enjoy that freedom. I have talked with many women on my treks around the globe, and no matter where I am, whether it be a first-world, second-world or third-world country, I encounter a similar story. A story of being stuck, of being unable to better the circumstances in which they find themselves. Which often for women, means staying in what I would consider an intolerable situation of abuse and constant fear. But somehow they find strength to stay. Perhaps they feel they have no way out, perhaps they stay for their children sake. Many don’t have the freedom to pursue their dreams, or to think they even have the right to have them. They don’t have freedom from want so they choose to not want anything. Many feel run into the ground with hopelessness, some harbor such anger and resentment that it makes them physically sick. Others manage to find gratitude for what they do have.
Every time before hanging up with my two nieces, I say, I love you, to Andromeda and back. And I mean it, from the depths of my being. My love for them implores me to make a call to action—for us, for our generation— to not give in to hopelessness. To not take no for an answer. Each one of us can make an impact, and create a positive ripple effect. We are the best-informed, the most-technologically advanced and the best-connected generation this world has seen to date. Together our potential is multiplied exponentially. Together we have the potential power of an avalanche.
Did you take part in the Climate Change Demonstrations this past week? What small change can one person do in their daily lives today to make a difference?