Finally a Generation with a Meaningful Task

To celebrate Mother Earth, this post includes some pictures of our beautiful home. I hope you fall in love with her like I do time and time again. I found all these lovely images on Unsplash (picture by Tim Swaan)

Hello my dear happiness nerds, welcome (back)!

I’m returning from my summer hiatus with something juicy for you. This one should be fun, the ideas had plenty of time to mature in my heart, which is full of love and optimism these days. Finally, we’re seeing a new generation of young people with a meaningful task, with fire in their eyes, and vigor in their actions. And their task is not exclusive to them: Humans from all walks of life, from all generations, and from all over the world are invited to participate in this great opportunity to live up to the full potential of our race. To finally demonstrate that we are able to live in harmony with nature. That we are wise, compassionate, and virtuous enough to collectively take care of our home that we have exploited for such a long time. Peoples’ hearts are opening up to the realization that it is bloody time to stop raping the mother who has fed, clothed, and sheltered us so kindly and plentifully. Just stop for a moment and remember the last piece of amazing fruit you have tasted. Wasn’t that a miracle in itself? But I’m getting ahead of myself. I wanted to start elsewhere, namely in Paris.

Picture by Michal Kmet

Recently, I was on a three-week vacation in the beautiful French capital, which is simultaneously the most visited city in Europe (and number 2 in the world, only surpassed by Bangkok) and the most disappointing destination in the world (up to the point of leaving visitors mentally ill). It is the home of the arguably most iconic antenna in the world, the Eiffel Tower, the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, and one of the most notorious sociopaths in human history, Napoleon Bonaparte (lately, though, he has stiff, orange competition from across the pond). And, unfortunately, it is the latter, Napoleon, who has inspired this post. Because he personifies everything that in my opinion is wrong with humanity: Greed, selfishness, and the fear of being merely ordinary (which I think is strongly connected to the fear of death and the desire to leave a legacy – exactly the thing that philosophy is here to fix). Yet, history books celebrate him and his kind. Sure, he is also ridiculed (often probably out of envy), but who wouldn’t want to be as famous, as successful, and, eventually, as immortal as him? There are paintings of him that are bigger than my entire living room. His grave is prominently located under the magnificent Dôme des Invalides. He probably wiped his ass with gold leaves and diamonds. In short, he achieved the unthinkable success, admiration, and comfort the rest of us are taught to strive for.

So, obviously, people want to take selfies in front of his palaces, his oversized portraits, and even his tomb. Like they want to take selfies in front of everything that associates them with wealth, success, and the extraordinary. In order to feel the short kicks of dopamine for every like on Instagram from the envious crowd at home. I try not to judge them for this behavior, because, after all, approval from our peers is one of our most instinctive desires. It’s probably one of the hardest impulses to get rid of on the journey towards deep and lasting happiness.

Picture by Jonathan Auh

My problem is less with the pretentious selfies themselves, but with the culture and values behind them. These selfies are symbolic versions of Napoleon’s palaces and riches; like them, they are the results of peoples’ greed, selfishness, and fear of being merely ordinary. People want more admiration, more likes, more envy, and therefore more money, more lavish vacations, and more extravagant Instagram feeds. This is not limited to vacations, but is equally true for clothes, cars, homes, food, perfumes, and so on. It’s consumption as a way to communicate one’s worth, which is exactly what entrepreneurs and politicians want, because it drives growth and fills their pockets. Again, all this to bolster the self by getting ahead in the rat race, in which nobody wins, but everybody loses (because it just doesn’t make happy). And by “everybody”, I mean everybody: The burnt-out managers and the slave-like child workers, the anxious city-dwellers and the exploited farmers, the dying rain forests, and the polluted oceans.

This is not a modern problem, it has always existed. As I said, we are hardwired towards this unfortunate dynamic. What’s new is that the ecological consequences of our greed, selfishness, and fear of the ordinary have accumulated such damage and are now on such an enormous scale that they are even affecting weather itself. Whereas a few thousand years ago, humans were awe-struck by weather phenomena like lightening and attributed them to godly powers, today, humans collectively have risen to be the gods who shape the weather; who manage to heat up the entire planet at unprecedented rates (like, literally, hundreds of thousands of times faster than before us); and who speed up the extinction of species by probably a 100 to a 1000 times. Some geologists even say we have entered a new geological age, the Anthropocene. If it weren’t so catastrophically sad, it would be kind of impressive.

Picture by Mathilda Khoo

But contrary to Greta Thunberg, who is my absolute hero and probably the most important person living today, I don’t want you to panic. I want you to re-evaluate our values. Should we keep on celebrating material wealth, fame, power, and status as well as the greed, selfishness, and fear of the ordinary that underlie them? Or should we find something better? Maybe something wiser, more beautiful, and more poetic? How about contentment instead of greed? How about love, compassion and helpfulness instead of selfishness? How about celebrating the ordinary instead of running away from it? I say yes, pretty pleeeease (with sugar on top)!

I say, let’s build monuments and paint big-ass paintings for the modest, the selfless, and the undistinguished! But more importantly than monuments and big-ass paintings, let’s teach these values (which, by the way, sages around the globe have advocated for millennia) in schools, universities, and companies! Let’s act upon them in our daily lives and in our voluntary work! Let’s not celebrate our most embarrassing sociopaths and their ridiculous squanderings; instead, let’s celebrate the beauty of nature and the ones who protect and nurture it. Let’s fall in love with nature again. No matter where you live, you have the most amazing forests or plains, waters or deserts, mountains or oceans right in your neighborhood (great local travel options, by the way!). And if not, it’s because you and the ones before you destroyed them. That’s a fact. Nothing to be ashamed of, because shame won’t get us anywhere in this crisis. Just something to accept and change for the better.

Picture by Gitte Winter

As a species, we have incredible (human) resources. A few months ago, Ethiopians planted over 350 million trees in only 12 hours. That’s less than 1% of the global population in one of the poorest countries in the world basically performing a miracle of epic proportions. Last Friday, more than 4 million individuals around the globe acted in concert and striked for a healthier and more beautiful future. Imagine what we other 7.7 billion could achieve together!

Reversing global warming is far from hopeless, it’s just a matter of every single person choosing one thing to do, taking one less flight per year, eating one less steak per week, buying one outfit from a vintage store, picking one organization to donate to, or finding one project to get involved in. And there’s something for everyone’s taste. Recently, a huge collaboration by scientists and activists compiled the top 100 things to do to reverse global warming. You’ll find everything there, from upgrading fridges, to reducing food waste, and educating girls. You don’t have to be a climate scientist or biologist. You. Just. Have. To. Pick. One. Thing. And most important of all – and this option costs next to nothing, but has the biggest impact of them all – vote for the party that makes ambitious climate action their top priority.

Picture by Omar Mena

And you really have to. Make a plan right now and write it down. Follow through with it and share your success with others so they’ll follow your lead. Reward yourself for being one of the first awesome people who have done something, even if it’s the smallest thing. Actually, for what it’s worth, write it in the comments below and I’ll thank you personally. But nothing will be as rewarding as the feeling that you’ve done the right thing. For one moment, you’ve ignored all the allegedly more fun but definitely less useful activities and done something important. And hey, there’s plenty of fun to be had while saving the planet. Go to a local initiative and do something cool that suits your interests. As I said, there’s something for everybody.

The thing is: If you don’t do anything, nobody else will. That’s another way in which we are hardwired in a less than ideal way. “One of my flat mates will bring out the trash eventually, right?” Guess what, they’re thinking the exact same thing until the smell is unbearable and the bravest soul attends to the matter. Be the bravest soul and bring out the trash even before the smell gets unbearable.

Picture by David Clode

We are lucky to live in a time, where it’s never been easier to find something meaningful to do. For decades, youth culture didn’t have anything to rebel against and nothing to fight for. Now we have the opportunity to be among the first to live a happier and more sustainable life, to have a cleaner conscience, and to find pleasure in helping others. Every act we do for the climate will immediately affect peoples’ lives around the world. They are our brothers and sisters, just like the animals and trees in the forests, the birds in the skies, and the fish in the sea. We’re in this together, which is a beautiful thing to realize. Plant the tree that will fill your lungs with air. Go out and fall in love with nature again. Save Mother Earth because you love her.

If you like the message of this little essay, please share it. Multiplying the love is the best you can do with it.

Picture by Zdeněk Macháček

Picture by Linnea Sandbakk

Picture by Yuichi Kageyama

Picture by J L

Picture by Fabrizio Frigeni

Picture by Avnish Choudhary

Picture by Tim De Pauw

63 thoughts on “Finally a Generation with a Meaningful Task

    1. Thank you, I didn’t take any of them but got them from (fair use). Awesome to hear that you’re going to the Global Strike tomorrow, me too! Enjoy and keep up the good work!

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Nature is beautiful. Your essay too. I do a lot of things to reduce harm to our planet, always have. My latest is to eat more according with the seasons and more localy. I reduce bying products that have to fly from the other side of the world or need to be manipulated to be presented nicely in the stores. I love too see what nature offers us every season and try to capture that specific energy in my cooking and recipes. That is my way of thinking but I’m working on the implemtation. I will share my recipes and thoughs in my blog to multiply the love.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Welcome back, Kacha! Wow, thanks, that’s great what you’re doing for the planet – it’s certainly way more than most people do! Thanks also for sharing that spirit on your blog, that helps a lot! The things you noticed are among the best one can privately do: Enjoy local, enjoy seasonal, cook yourself. Great for Mother Earth, your health, and your taste buds 🙂 Much love, Thomas

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful images and words! 🙂 Napoleon is just an icon France is using to show how great they are… there are countries nowadays who use the same living “icons” to show their “integrity” or “greatness” .. so never mind about Napoleon:)
    I pick up plastic from the sea when I go to my sup, and the beautiful thing is that a lot of people are doing the same… here in Italy, the problem of recycling is still serious due to the inefficiency of our mayors our streets are full of garbage… if they can’t give guidance from above because of their hidden interests climate matter will always be a problem

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi (not so) oblivious goddess! Thanks for your great comment! Yeah, it’s basically showing off on a national scale. I find it admirable that you pick up plastic from the sea, it’s sad that the politicians don’t take care of. Italy is blessed with so much beauty and then some selfish assholes ruin it with their bad politics. Keep on fighting the good fight!
      And thanks so much for your love, it makes me so happy 🙂 You’re blog is great, too, you write with a fresh style about really important topics. Can’t wait for more!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ebubechukwu! Thanks so much, I’m really happy to hear that! It’s a complicated issue and many aspects hard to understand, so I’m glad that my words and the images by the talented photographers could deliver the relatively simple main message: Love Mother Earth and start doing something today to regenerate her former beauty! Thanks for reading and much love, Thomas

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I like your blog! I am trying hard to do my little part to save the world, from buying eggs in cardboard cartons (recyclable) instead of foam, to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store (or just piling my groceries back into the cart after paying, and rolling them out to the car when I forget bags which is often. If everyone would at least try it would make a world of difference, and a difference in the world. Just made that up. 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Geanie! Thanks, I think I like yours, too 🙂 Thanks for doing your little bit for the environment, too! Yes, it would really make a world of a difference!


  4. I disagree that Greta is “probably the most important person living today” on the basis that many before her have been communicating the same message. I must be one of the few who havent forgotten their important voices and the suffering and realisations that came from their experience of the world.

    It doesnt matter if Greta is the one who is speaking loudest, or if it’s something much bigger behind her that is pushing the moment into the light. What matters is that they all all given a chance to speak out and verbalise their perspectives. One voice and one perspective is not as effective as many.

    I am troubled by the fact that a girl saying the same things for years before in India and Africa is not heard, but a girl with a privileged background can become an overnight pop star, a martyr for her cause might describe it. I say this in the knowledge that I will be howled down, and loud may ye yell. It is not a criticism of Greta herself. This is the revolution we needed and she is doing a great job, but I’d like to know that someone from a less privileged background is not being drowned out by the hype and almost hysterical spectacle I am observing.

    Before I go, may I say that you have a beautiful way with words. Lovely to visit your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Hanna, thank you for your great comment!

      I agree, more voices are more effective and, unfortunately, there are many powerful and helpful voices that don’t get the attention they deserve. I’d really wish it were different.

      To me, personally, Greta might be the most important person alive right now, because she managed to get the coverage (with or without help from others), because she inspires people to organize themselves and act. There are others, who could and maybe should have been in her place. I’m just glad that this place exists at this moment and that somebody like Greta is filling it.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, they are among the things that keep me going ^^ I like your style and poetry, too! And I think I’ll follow your example and publish one of my recent poems. Much love!


    1. You’re welcome (in the blogosphere)! Can’t wait to read what you’ll be writing about teaching (I’m a teacher myself)! Spread the love 🙂


  5. I believe there were six measures proposed at the Environmental Science conference last month. They sounded like the real McCoy … huge undertakings that could save the planet. Though they would not reverse the warming, they could offset the damage done on land and sea on a large scale. I can’t find them! They were the first hopeful thing I found, frankly. With the best of intentions, what we do as individuals, even what US States do … not anywhere near a help. Why doesn’t a council of nations raise enough $$ to pay the Brazilian farmers what they’d earn each year by clearing the rain forests?Has anyone proposed that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that we need huge initiatives on national and international levels and I hope those six measures are real and happening. And probably the best “one thing” that people could do is to become politically active and vote for politicians, who take the problem seriously. But even then, politics are a slow game. Taking action and mobilizing others right now is way faster and also makes a difference (in addition to the political solutions that have to come at some point). As for the idea with the $$ for Brazilian farmers. Not a bad idea. Another way to do this: Don’t buy produce from Brazil if you don’t live there. If everybody did that, the Amazon rainforest would be saved.


  6. Actually it looks like the produce Brazil exports to the USA are mainly these:
    Brazil imports consisted of “1.2% of overall U.S. imports in 2018. The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2018 were: mineral fuels ($5.2 billion), special other (returns) ($3.5 billion), iron and steel ($3.1 billion), aircraft ($2.2 billion), and machinery ($2.1 billion).”

    I think maybe paying the Brazilian farmers might be a better idea .. something one could write one’s representatives about. And while we’re at it, we might ask them to pressure the White House to stop paying off the Brazilian meat-packing industry. Livestock emits more methane gas into the atmosphere than any other source, it turns out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the numbers on US imports from Brazil, I appreciate the data-based discussion! I’m not from the USA and I was referring to global imports from Brazilian produce. I think a lot of CO2 emissions could be reduced by consuming locally. And as you mention, the meat-packing industry is a nother big polluter, so moving towards a more plant-based diet would be great for the planets (and farm animals). Thanks again for engaging in a data-based and thought-provoking discussion!


  7. You’re welcome. The USA is a particularly reactive society (rather than proactive). Unfortunately that often results in nothing being done, because reactions don’t last. So blogs like yours are so important to keep reminding us of what’s needed!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your message! Thanks for your recent follow,we seem to carry a very similar interest! 😛 I really enjoyed reading this,and its laid out very beautifully. Very strong message,and admirable. Thankyou much Thomas! And have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I love the idea of a virtual open mic!! And I do write poetry, so maybe you’ll lend me a voice sometime 🙂 Thanks for appreciating my writing and message, it’s really dear to my heart 😊 Wish you all the best and hear/read you soon!


  9. Great! I loved not only the beautiful picture but your optimism and take in Global warming and celebrating ones self. Correct there is no small thing b cause everybody contributes to a cause of some kind. Thankfully I have already begun to do little things to make a difference in the global warming wish more people would get on board and I suffer with anxiety and have come out of a battered woman lifestyle and am now doing fashion shows for such women and helping women and families reconnect I love being a restorer of the breach! So ty for your beautiful acknowledgment of nature and encouragement . You Rock

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Benita! Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I’m sorry to hear about your terrible past, but I’m amazed by how you transformed it into a purposeful and beautiful task! Love how you put it, “restorer of the breach” ❤ Wishing you all the best and reading you again, soon!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s exactly the way to see it. You can’t change your past anyway, so it’s best to accept and embrace it. It really made you the aweseome person you are today! Still, I hope, that your life will be easier and more harmonious from now on! Nobody deserves what happened to you. Wishing you all the best, bring your positive energy into the world! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thomas thank you for all of your encouragement and for speaking greater into my life may God bless you in every area of your life and continue to use you to be a blessing to others like me again thank you Thomas you are “Awesome”

            Liked by 1 person

  10. That’s a beautiful post. I really enjoyed it. The pictures are awesome and the message is imperative, I will think about what I can contribute. I have a 15 year old son who’s amazing and he’ll have great ideas, so I’ll share this with him.. Have a super Thursday..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Efrona! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! I’m really happy to hear that you’re taking action, we need more people like you! 💪😃✨ I’m curious to hear what ideas your son has, if you care to share 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Thomas,
        My son and I talk about this the conversation and boiled down to this: The world is falling apart because it is not harmonious. It’s not that people don’t care about the world. Most do. It’s that we live in a society governed by powers that distort our values. Society rewards us for accomplishments and degrees like a competition. (Example, to become a botanist pays much less than a lawyer and is less prestigious; therefore, those who have passion for this area might not go there.)
        My son worries about his age group. By 9th grade, kids need to decide what career they will follow. It’s all about money and who will be successful and accomplish something big. People are not following their true passions, as it doesn’t pay, and no one wants to be labeled a loser or reject.
        So, the world suffers because we are choosing paths that don’t suit us, and in a domino effect, our world is dying without anyone caring for it by putting it first.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Efrona,
          Thanks so much for your wonderful thoughts. I think you and your son hit the nail right on the head: We have the wrong values and wrong priorities in society. Work that demoralizes humans and destroys the planet tends to be paid better. From this follows the chain reaction that you described so well. So, what to do? There might not be a simple answer. But I think everybody can do their part. Society isn’t much more than a whole lot of individuals and their influences. So every person makes a difference, in their lives and in the lives of others. My position right now is to live a simple and humble life in order to be free to pursue the work I find meaningful. This may be harder in other countries, but here in Switzerland it is well possible. Look at people like Gandhi – they show the way. Thanks again for reading and commenting and thanks for raising your son to be a thoughtful, caring person. All the best, Thomas

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thomas, your response leave us with a united feeling. In America it is harder to think minamalistic or live it, but only because it’s such a land of luxury. But I’m seeing a change in views as to what matters all accross the world. People are begining to question what matters. My son and I are Israeli and American. Israel is a land of many minamalists, it’s something I miss.
            Thank you for your kind words, we will continue an awareness of what it means to set meaninful tasks in our lives.


            1. Hi Efrona!
              Thanks for you lovely reply and sorry for taking so long to reply myself – your comment was marked as spam and I just found out about it.
              I agree, in a country like the USA it’s a lot harder to think and live minimalisitcally. It is similar here in Switzerland, where people love new equipment and quickly discard old one. At least they appreciate quality, so they have less of a reason to outright throw away their stuff. But it’s very unusual to repair things or buy used, which would be so much better for the environment.
              Speaking about meaning: I recently wrote an article that could be interesting for you and your son: There you’ll also find a thought or two on how to identify and engage in meaningful work/activities.
              Best wishes,


  11. wonderful post.
    Just wishing to say their are many from other generations who have been fighting for this for decades, and as we pass the baton on to you may your success be far greater than ours. I think of people such as Dr Bob Brown who began the Tasmanian Greens Party in 1992/3 as an enviromental political party. The first of its kind world wide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, that’s a great point! We build on the work of many important and courageous people from previous generations. Yet, they used to be the minority. But now, for the first time in history, climate activists could become the mainstream, which I would love to see! Best wishes, Thomas


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