I am part of an informal community: a group of mothers who are my friends and who are exploring the same questions and interests that permeate - or flood - my own life. Like most groups of friends, we didn’t seek each other out exactly, but somehow found support and solace in a common experience. Essentially, we are trying to nurture our young children in ways that are as meaningful and natural as possible. There is much to decide, and the huge spectrum of considerations can feel daunting and enthralling to a new mother who feels like her eyes have just been opened to another world. There is breastfeeding; nutrition and ways of eating; responding to crying and sleeping; vaccinations; what products are best and natural on precious new skin; what kinds of nappies, if any, to use and when to stop using them; how to carry your baby; what clothes, fabrics, bedding, approaches to healing, and toys are best; and of course - most topical of all - the issue of screen time. As our eyes and minds widen to new ideas, so the scope of scrutiny grows exponentially. It can seem suffocating to list the choices a parent faces like this, which is ironic in itself for those of us wishing to live life more simply.....
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Palm oil. Animal agriculture. Parebens. Plastic. Fast fashion. Toxic dyes. Traffic pollution. Sugar. Genetic modification. There is a lot to worry about. There are countless imbalances and sufferings. But amidst the confusion, apathy and passionate activism all around us, there is a sobering truth: that the solution to it all lies deep inside each one of us. At the root of all this material disaster is human behaviour. If I stop using plastic straws and buy products that haven’t been tested on animals but my heart is full of criticism, despair and aggression towards others, nothing will really change. It is our thoughts that need to change. Our words and actions then become the fruits and flowers of our lives. It is the human being that has the capacity to exploit or sustain all other forms of life, and to construct or destroy a healthy world. It is also the human being that is inflicting unspeakably cruel behaviour on other human beings. The solutions to bitter racism, the oppression of women, and the abuse of children also lie deep within each one of us. Our hearts are the repositories of all the needed change. Our inner condition will determine what our hands do, what our words say. So instead of tweeting or marching or not caring at all, perhaps we need to focus on where change really happens, as we sip on our organic coffee in reusable cups.