What Does “Know Better, Do Better” Really Mean?

I do not fault the individual level for the “earth slaying” problem before us. I fault the collective. Gently, at that. Much of our behavior lures behind misunderstanding or lack of information. That’s why I call for each of you to join me in educating others. Most just don’t know or understand the impact behind decisions!

When looking at the ancestral timeline, earth slaying is a newer cultural acceptance, only beginning somewhere around 10,000 years ago at the dawn of the Agricultural Movement. Before then, we operated in symbiotic balance with our natural resources, sharing a deeper understanding of that complex relationship and its risks/rewards. What makes the relationship complex? Nature does not communicate in written words. Nor do people, in fact. Only an estimated 8% of human-to-human communication is verbal, but even so we somehow disassociate that statistic with our interactions. Therefore, miscommunication may lie at the root of earth and relationship slaying, no pun intended.

What happens when the collective begins to slay away? We strip the earth and its relationships down to nothing close to resembling the desired state.

Then we spiral. Fast.

We begin to think only for our family’s needs and stop nurturing one another (nature included) beyond that. When we sever our relationship with community and its resources, we open the door for a vicious, selfish cycle. This happens to good people, many-times unbeknownst to them. They just truck along day-to-day following the cultural script provided. Glyphosates (aka Roundup) legal? That means use them. Turn food-growing areas into ornamental plant poison zones? Proceed. Source food and other consumables from earth slayers? Ok. Become an earth slayer? Sure, if my family legacy is secured, I’m in. I’ll tell my customers whatever they want to hear so my business survives.  This is an easy trap for a wide range of people to find themselves. One selfish, uniformed decision turns into thousands. Remember, I am not pointing a finger at you. I am pointing my heart towards the collective.

Ope. Hold on. I must chase a hawk away from my chickens. It’s a beautiful red-tailed hawk, but he needs to move on to another area.

Ok I’m back.

There’s grace in all of this, and I found it. I usually try to. First, many people are walking zombies due to trauma ranging from subtle to severe. Second, we don’t have enough consumers in demand of a different way. We have a large span of good people trying to do their best, living in a partial zombie state from trauma, overwhelmed over 90% of their waking and sleeping time, and severely lacking “know better, do better.” It’s all-too-easy for those who have made “know better, do better” radical changes to hide out in Comfortville. I get that. I did that. I am done doing that.

When we hide in our bubble because we have decided not to participate in the grand social experiment, this leaves a small group of people trying to change problems much bigger than we can solve in small numbers. We need more educators. We need more people rekindling their deep relationship with people and nature! We need people to fight the overwhelming addiction to fake interactions. We need community again. A real community.

My heart believes that the surest way to resolving the dehumanization wildfire is to take people outside into nature’s perfection and embrace. The heart softens, opens, and suddenly everything changes. Beauty begins to display herself in all shapes, sizes, and dialogues. It’s a great unfolding to witness.

We must start asking HARD questions and put our foot down, literally. Visit places you choose to support for your consumption needs and wants. Meet the owners, ask questions, and request changes. Go outside daily to reflect on your experiences, relationships, growth, consumption, and everything in between. Try doing that inside, and you will cut short the opportunity to expand. Think about it for a minute. Being outside ALL OF THE TIME was our natural state up until quite recent. If our brains developed during the years of hunter-gathering and farming, how is it possible to develop properly as humans INSIDE? I digress.

I’ll tell you a story to illustrate the skeptical, yet supportive path I am asking you to join. The story begins ten years ago. I had just discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation after my then 12-month-old baby reacted to regular organic milk (pasteurized and homogenized). We found a local raw milk option and signed up for weekly milk shares. Two years in, I woke up to the understanding that “grass-fed” still meant that the animals were supplemented with feed, especially in the winter. One day while visiting the farm to pick up my milk, I asked if the feed was organic. The answer? No. I then asked if they would be willing to offer organic milk shares. The response? Perhaps, but are you honestly willing to pay $12/gallon instead of the existing $8/gallon? I confusingly said, “Of course I am. I don’t want any harmful chemicals going into an animal for both my family’s health but also for the animal’s health.” He said, “I will run a beta organic milk share program if you can find five other families interested.” I found the families, and we began drinking organically-fed raw milk. The beta program went so well that the farm eventually offered organic and non-organic shares permanently. That’s all it took! Farmers are great people who want to honor their community’s needs. All we need to do? Ask and back the requests with consumer education.

Here’s some more local conscious consumer tips in keeping with the theme of this essay:

  • When you consume local food, don’t unless you have visited their land. I wish it was trustworthy reading the info at farmer’s market tables, but it’s not. Writing that last sentence puts a tinge of pain right on my heart, but I still choose to leave my cozy cubby to write it.
  • If they use Roundup or any other poisons, be respectful in your words when you tell them you will not consume from the slayed land until they switch to biodynamic methods. Ask to see EVERYTHING they use—don’t settle for the “we use integrated pest management” answer.  Be gentle and educate these good people that IPM does not guarantee clean land and food coming off the land.
  • Educate your farmers that non-GMO is a start, but not the finish. Explain to them that you are an informed consumer aware that non-GMO practices still allow for the use of poisons on the crops and land.
  • Ask to see the plant and animal living conditions while embedded in a conversation about the farmer’s care ethos. It’s unfortunately easy to mistreat plants and animals—just about as easy as it is to mistreat small children. They are often defenseless and perceived as voiceless. Stand up for the voiceless.
  • Ask what they are doing to heal their land from all the taking required when growing food and/or raising animals.
  • Walk the land with your farmers and learn about one another. Form a relationship. Invite your friends to come with you to meet a farm. Farms are the perfect place to connect. Farmer’s markets only scratch the itch. Go to the land.

And most of all, sacrifice convenience to spark a wave of healing for our collective.  

What else should we do to help change people into stewards?

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