“Get a job” said a passing stranger to me the other morning.
I didn’t ask for his advice — I was sitting, minding my own business, with my eyes closed outside the Houses of Parliament. I was taking part in the 24/7 40 day Lenten multi-faith vigil that my Buddhist friend Satya Robyn and others have initiated.
I am interested in the reaction that my non-violent non-action aroused. Why did he feel the need to comment? Was it a piece of friendly advice? Or was it (as I believe) that in some way he saw me as challenging his own response (or perhaps lack of one) to the climate emergency.
Getting a job is, I suppose, the perfect way to avoid responsibility for the climate emergency. You do what everyone else does — go to work, do what you’re told and delegate upwards any responsibility to do or be anything different.
I notice that simply sitting is challenging to many because it is so counter-cultural. To keep the economy rolling on its ever-upward journey, we all need to keep busy. No time to question why, simply do. Whilst when you sit quietly with your eyes closed, there is no-one to blame, nothing to distract yourself with, nothing to be done.
The first rule of the doctor’s profession is “First, do no harm”. What if we all just stopped, sat down, took a few breaths. What if it all started from there?
So I won’t get a job (I have quite enough to do anyway, thanks). If anything I need to get less busy. Less judgemental. Less in my head and more in my body.
What a privilege it was to sit in Parliament Square that morning. What a privilege to be able simply to stop and breathe, in service to our beautiful mother Earth.