COP26 Thought for the Day #2

‘What can I do?’

When we envisage a world in which everything is part of an interactive, connected system everything matters. Our actions, even minute, imperceptible actions, have impact. In this way we can all, in some way, be activists.

But even though I know this, as these crucial talks get underway, I’m aware of the weight of how much needs to be done, and feel small and powerless, ‘what can I do anyway?’ it would be so easy to turn away.

The words ‘attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’ from philosopher Simone Weil, bring me back. Something that was pinning me down loosens, ‘yes’, I think, this is something I know how to do, both as a coach and as a human being.  Paying attention, though often invisible, is important work.  “Attention, taken to its highest degree” says Weil, “is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.”  

Will alone, ‘will without grace’ leads to action that creates more problems than it solves. In contrast, this quality of attending is like a love story, moving beyond self-centeredness, sensitising the heart to the needs of others and the world. If we can pay attention we can become more effective change-makers whatever the context we find ourselves in.

Recognising I make myself powerless when I choose not to know, for today my answer to the question ‘What can I do?’ is to attend with love and faith to the beautiful, perplexing, unfathomable, otherness of the world, and to trust that through attentiveness the wisest path may be found.