This blog post is a substitute of a blog post I wrote one week ago, called ‘taking responsibility – our travel miles and behavior’. What I literally wrote in this blog post was:
“Inspired by all the churches and mosques we’ve seen, we feel the urge to confess in what other ways we travelled during this trip.”
And further on, “since we admit we are no angels, but instead are better classified as sinful mortals, we like to spill our guts and share our ‘fossil-energy-sins’, in the hope we will be forgiven, not in the least place by ourselves.”
Very heavy stuff: written down in a way you could assume we were ‘joking’. But as we all know, in every joke there’s a grain of truth. And that truth isn’t funny. It might even be the single most serious problem related to sustainability and we fell into the trap.
This trap is called GUILT. Yes, it is better to put GUILT into capitals, for that’s how heavy it is. GUILT is the most counterproductive source of energy that we have come to know. And in our trip GUILT travelled along on quite some stretches. It was present during discussions about ‘how to travel back’ (also read Marijn’s blogpost about this struggle) and drove along when we would arrange other forms of transport. It made shopping experiences tense, for we would struggle not to end up with plastic bags and felt awkward buying bottled water.
Anyone with ideas about a better future, whether it is in healthcare, social housing or financial markets, is prone to the GUILT-TRAP, for we can always take more responsibility. Our own guilt-trap had to do with CO2. We could have cycled the whole stretch. We could have filtered our water all the time. We could have refused all the plastic bags that people kept offering us. We could have been perfect.
Yeah, right. Here’s where a shrink would say, do you hear what you’re saying? So you think you can be perfect? You could have emitted ‘0’ CO2 in a society that is designed to use fossil fuels in the best way possible? You could have cycled on in tunnels hardly safe for cars, in cities so polluted you wouldn’t want your dog to come with you for a walk, on stretches so hot your body would constantly need water to cool down?
No shrink needed
Without a shrink, with some help of people that are close to us, we came to the conclusion that indeed, it’s absurd to think we could have been perfect. And we also realized how insanely counter-productive it is to feel guilty about traveling by car, bus, metro, boat or plane during some stretches. Guilty for not filtering. Guilty for accepting plastic bags and buying bottled water and juice.
We realized that the moments we let guilt determine what would happen during the trip, it would suck all the energy out, it would be a source of arguments and make us feel miserable.
For the love of it
The opposite of guilt is love: love for nature, the planet and each other. We loved to experiment with filtering water, living on little energy and cycling in weather that tested our body. We loved to climb passes that made us feel physically high and feel on top of it.
‘Power based on love is a thousand times more effective, than power based on fear’ (Mahatma Gandhi)
And now that we’re back, we love to take responsibility to share what we’ve learned and spread the enthusiasm. Cycling across the world is a great way to get away from it all and find new sources of love! And if you find that love, you’ll surely cross Energy Borders!