Once upon a time California was known as a place for its progressive and innovative ideals. It was at the forefront of positive changes that set the tone for many things such as gender equality (first state with two female senators!), LGBT support, bilingual integration, and medical marijuana.
What made California feel energized with open mindedness seemed to be stalling out though, even backsliding, particularly in 2008 when prop 8 was passed. How could we be a state that banned gay marriage? And how was it Hollywood's reigning queen for many years was a self-involved reality star that gave women nothing more to look up to than the catch phrase, "That's hot"? Prop 8 was eventually overruled and reversed in 2013, and Hollywood has re-embraced feminism (thanks in large part to Joseph Gordon- Levitt). But things still felt stagnate around here. Maybe California isn't so important, bold and innovative after all...
Or maybe these recent years will prove to be the exception and not the rule. On Tuesday, a bill was signed in that was the first of its kind: a ban on single use plastic bags for the whole state.
Growing up here, I always had the feeling that if I really wanted my voice to be heard, if I really wanted to make a difference, I could. These last few years weren't so supportive of that feeling, but things are changing again. People are waking back up around here. People are starting to listen, and one voice is rising to the top.
Al Gore's hasn't stopped campaigning on behalf of the environment for the last decade. Ten years of tireless work, and finally, his message is being heeded.
The tides are turning and people are getting it. We must take action now. With the ban of single use plastic bags a new standard has been set. One that puts the environment before our own convenience.
There are a lot of messages out there now about what's going wrong in the environment. Especially here in California, with the ongoing drought. it's easy to feel like we're in an environmental nose dive. Certain images and stories give the impression that we're all screwed. When people start to think we're screwed, they lose hope, and when they lose hope they think, "Why bother? Why change my habits? The planet can't survive either way. Who cares?"
This plastic bag ban is the kind of hope we need right now. The hope that the people in leadership will do the right thing for the environment. The power of hope and positive thinking can never be underestimated. It's what leads to a critical mass - to a tipping point where everything starts to flow a different direction.
I often see people trying to shock and scare others into being more responsible about over-consuming and polluting. I don't believe much good is done when actions come from a place of fear though. Fear certainly gets people acting, but generally in a way that creates short-sighted, uninspired and ultimately toxic thinking. Fear and panic are contagious.
So are hope and inspiration.
If we focus on the fact that a lot is still going right with the natural world then we won't feel like we're facing a mountain we can't climb. When we feel something is possible we're more likely to do something about it. And when our peers believe in something, we're even more likely to get involved.
Group think is an interesting and equally powerful thing. The more people are into something the more others will jump on the bandwagon. So the affect of an entire state banning plastic bags really is a thing to be celebrated. It means the group mentality is changing.
It means a critical mass can be achieved. It means we have a reason to hope. We can believe in a better future, and if we can believe, well, then we can make it happen.
I often say in this blog that like attracts like. If you focus on what's beautiful and inspiring in this world you will draw into your energy field things that support that. You will attract to you action oriented, earth friendly groups that perhaps do tree planting. You will attract like minded people that are out there researching ways to make clean water. Most importantly, positive energy is uplifting. You will have energy to go out and plant those trees and help raise funds for those people who want to purify water where it's most needed.
Conversely, if you zero in on what's wrong with this planet, and keep a laser sharp focus on it, all you will see are the negative stories. They will make you tired and listless and drag you down into why bother? I'm not saying we should ignore the environmental issues, especially ones like clean water that are impacting lives daily. I'm only saying stay hopeful because what you believe and focus on you will create into reality.
Let's continue to push for better environmental standards. Let's remember that things can change. And if California keeps doing what it's doing, those changes are going to happen sooner rather than later.
Today, I feel gratitude for everyone that pushed for this plastic bag ban. I feel gratitude for Al Gore and the fact that he never gave up, no matter how hopeless it seemed that his voice would be heard. I'm grateful the sun is shining and I can breathe and walk around under the trees. And I'm grateful for you, because you're a part of the critical mass. What you think and what message you spread will impact others. You matter.
I'm choosing to keep it positive. Keep others motivated out of love for the Earth. Avoid spreading heavy messages of fear and panic. Take action from a place of love for this amazing world and your intentions will go infinitely further. Think grateful thoughts as you go about your day. Say thank you for fresh air from the trees, the sweet smell of flowers, the cool feel of a river, the birds singing and see what shows up in your life. There are no limits to the possibilities of what a grateful attitude can do.