It’s New Year’s Day and therefore time for resolutions.
I don’t know what it is about the new year that makes people feel that it’s time for a new start. It’s really a day just like any other, but we give significance to it, so there ye go. The Romans were the same, with the god Janus, for whom January is named, looking both forwards into the past and backwards into the future.
The truth is, the DH and I felt rather flat over the Christmas period, and so did most of the people we know. We didn’t decorate the house, only a tree, opting this year for a plastic one rather than keep cutting down evergreens. We went to a nice party on the 23rd for a friend’s birthday, and had a lovely Christmas lunch with friends, but in between and afterwards we were quiet.
The death of Benazir Bhutto had something to do with it. It was a sick-making tragedy, and then the period of waiting that’s ensued, the eyes of the world on Pakistan, watching and apprehensive. The sight of her young son, his life now mapped out for him in ways that he surely doesn’t want. Talk about ‘and some have greatness thrust upon them’.
Also, two of my presents were books on Wabi-Sabi, which I try to follow, and on Buddhism without beliefs (I am an atheist), and with the weather being very grey and enclosing, I felt generally reflective. And then there was the Humphrey Hawksley documentary Bitter Sweet, about slavery in the cocoa industry, which I fully confess has haunted me. I thought that the chocolate makers had sorted out this problem and kept their promises and it was a shock – though sadly not a surprise – to find that they hadn’t. Suddenly those Christmas treats don’t feel quite so sweet, when faced with the mute despair of a child whose life is forfeit to our desire for cheap chocolate. I really don’t want the ruination of this boy’s life on my conscience.
After some reflection, therefore, the DH and I decided that something has got to change in our little lives. We left the UK to try to escape the consumerism of British society, and already we live fairly simply, but although we’re green-ish, we’re never sure that anyone is directly benefiting from our recycling etc – we needed a more personal touch.
So, we spent a day trawling the Internet and decided that loaning money to microcredit organisations would be a good place to start. I like the idea of microcredit – you know exactly where the money is going, who gets it, what it’s used for, and you’re helping people to help themselves, not just giving them ‘charity’. We settled on Kiva.org and donated money for their funding, then loaned money to a metal workshop in Vietnam.
Then we set out our gameplan for the year, which is:
1 To make a small but regular microcredit loan of $25 each month.
2 To switch to Fair Trade products for all our tea, coffee, chocolate etc.
3 To go as green as possible by considering the airmiles used in food production etc. For me, this means switching from US pecans to Italian walnuts, and from Tunisian dates to French prunes, for instance.
4 To buy organic clothing whenever possible, whenever we buy something new.
It’s item four that’s going to be the tough one. Already I get most of my clothes second-hand on Ebay, and the DH hardly buys any clothes at all, but it will still mean serious delayment of gratification whenever I spot those cheap socks at Lidl. So, let’s see if we’re up to it. Fingers crossed.
Happy new year.
Kiva.org – loans that change lives