Is Self-Sacrifice Worth It?

Sometimes it seems that calls to live fastfortheclimate_logo2more sustainably seem to be only about self-sacrifice. Giving things up. Doing without. For the greater good, of course.

That’s all fine and dandy if you like being a martyr for the cause.

But not all of us want to be martyrs.  (At least not all the time. ;-))

And it’s not healthy, either.  (After all, isn’t that the original definition of a martyr: someone who died for the cause?)

The thing is, we can’t just give, give, give…even if it is for our children – or the future of humankind.

That’s because we can’t continue to function when our emotional ‘batteries’ are fully drained, our energy ‘tanks’ empty.

We need to be re-charged or we run dry and can’t continue.

But sometimes we can be ‘empty’ and filling our emotional ‘tanks’ at the same time.


The reason is that sometimes we need to empty ourselves in order to re-charge.

Muslims have just finished Ramadan

Just before Ramadan ended this year, I heard an interesting radio program in which some Muslims spoke of their experience of Ramadan.

On this program, a theme was how beneficial they found this period of self-sacrifice –  for themselves!

One person spoke about how Ramadan helps him to re-charge: It helps me ‘re-charge my heart and spiritual essence’.  Other experiences included it being a time for yourself, when you can slow down, feel more contentment, ground yourself, connect deeply with yourself and the spirit…and with others.

In a newspaper article, a non-Muslim who tried it said that ‘Ramadan – like most rituals – is less about the body than the soul’.

I have heard before how people undertaking a food fast can feel tremendously energised and focussed.

In my experience, any type of fast helps with energising and focussing you on dealing with issues associated with the thing(s) or practice(s) from which you are abstaining.

So, if I am fasting from something that is contributing to environmental degradation, then the mere fact that I am doing something differently for a very good cause (such as a habitable planet) helps re-charge my energy for that work.

When I undertook a carbon fast for transport I felt re-invigorated mentally, emotionally and physically.  I felt better about myself and my (new) lifestyle…and it gave me a new point of connection to others and stronger connection with my community and the natural world around me. (And I got more work done and saved money – bonus! :))

That, surely, seems like an excellent way to re-connect with what’s important in life, and, in particular, the environment that supports us.

One of the reasons that we are now in the anthropocene is because so many of us humans have lost touch with the natural environment – the one that enables us to live – and with each other, particularly as community.

That’s why it’s so important that we change how we live – and call on others to do so to – so that future generations may simply live.

And that’s why, on the first day of each month, I join with thousands of others as –part of #fastfortheclimate in calling on our political leaders to take substantial action on climate change.

Will you join us?

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

UPDATE June 2017: links to Fast For The Climate and invitation to register removed because the website is no longer operational.