Week 1 Ryan Reflections:
There is no shortage of time to think when cycling all day and all week. Even the ride itself provides for a mental jog.
“Where are all these trucks going? What are they all carrying? Is this really the best for bicycle infrastructure that we can do? Look at all those wind turbines, holy moly! Did I just get a flat? Oh $%@&!”
More than just the road and what we are experiencing comes to mind. I think about the natural disasters and extreme weather conditions taking place all over the world. I think about us finding a nearby habitable planet. I think about what lies next for myself, and for
us all in the near future.
The last place I called home, Decorah, Iowa, was hit by a severe rainfall of 7-8 inches and was severely flooded just 3 days after I had left for my trip. I was struck with guilt, with concern for my neighbors and friends throughout the area. My very own basement of the house I was renting had accumulated 2 to 3 inches of water in the basement the evening my roommate left our temporary home for good. A large part of serving with AmeriCorps is being ready to respond to a disaster in time of need, and this was that time. I saw the Northeast Iowa flood from Facebook photos while on a train car headed as far West as possible from Decorah. Had I been there 3 days prior, I’d be responding to the disaster in a service capacity, something I’ve anticipated since I began AmeriCorps 3 years ago. This opportunity never came. I saw friends posting for help with their belongings, with their flooded basements.
Oh how the guilt came over me. I told my good friend I made in Decorah, “I wish I was there to help! I’m so sorry!” To which she replied that I am doing something to help, I am cycling for climate action so this doesn’t become as severe in the future. A much needed comfort came over me, as I fumbled with my packed bags that would be carried by my steel machine on two wheels. It was these words that brought comfort, and brought a larger purpose to my ride.
We are increasingly becoming a people that are affected, or know someone that is affected by the changes in how our planet functions. Whether or not one believes in climate change means very little when disaster response is needed more frequently. We know someone that is affected. We may be those people that are affected. In reaction to these disasters and events around the world, we can respond with inaction and indifference to the suffering of others, or we can respond with compassion, and all the action that we can muster, whatever that is.
As much as I believe in the little things, like taking shorter showers, biking to and from work, it is the BIG things that need the most change. In order to do this, we must organize and use our collective power to improve our friend’s conditions, all across the globe. This is why I believe so passionately in finding an organization that speaks to you, and has more power than an individual voice. It could be a medical organization concerned about air pollution. It could be a group of farmers concerned about their crop and the future of the land. It can be young people and old concerned about the world they adopt, or the world they leave future generations. Creating a better world for us now, and for the future, is something we must come together for. Disregard the lines that divide us. We can find more ways that we are intertwined than we are different. The potential for our collective action is astounding. We can, together, ensure that we have a safe, secure, and healthy future for ALL people. What a beautiful and hopeful thing we have. Let’s hold on to that hope. Let’s carry that hope with us wherever we go.
We can all change the world for the better, so let’s get going!