eWaste and a trail of compassion

Gradually people in the Western world are waking up to the fact that there’s a stream of toxic electronic waste making its way to various countries in Asia and Africa and impacting on the lives of the people that live there, we may not see the long term effects of this at present but no doubt in the years ahead we’ll hear about it.  Within the last twelve months I’ve noticed there has been a shift in the awareness about this issue. Some environmental groups are starting to be proactive in preventing old computer parts being sent to other countries and some council’s have developed programs within their local communities to avoid problems closer to home.

Like most people, ‘stuff happens’ and a few years back I went through a personal crisis involving another person.   I’ll spare you the details but at that time I was very disturbed by a particular person’s behaviour and had a lot of difficulty making sense of it.  Smack bang in the middle of the crisis, a friend of mine said something that ultimately was a turning point for me in dealing with and making some sort of peace with the situation.  What he said was something like “if you want to see what someone is really like, look at their wake”.  I was unfamiliar with the term ‘wake’ at that time but what he was referring to was the trail that a boat leaves behind when it passes through the water.  How this became useful was it gave me the opportunity to look and see whether what I was experiencing was a ‘one of’ situation or whether there were other examples of it.  Once I followed through I found there were numerous similar examples of the person’s behaviour and although the crisis was troubling, once I was clear that it was normal for that particular person to behave a certain way, although still painful, I didn’t take it as personal and it was easier for me to deal with.

So how does this relate to ewaste?  We all leave a trail behind us wherever we go, whether it’s basic consumer rubbish, electronic junk, or the kindness or disharmony when dealing with others, we all have a small role to play in order to help make the world a better place for us and the generations to come.  Whether it’s tossing out old worn out computer hardware or the way we communicate with others, it will ultimately impact on humanity as a whole.  Can we change our habits? Definitely, many people do.  Is change challenging? Of course it is.  Is it worthwhile? Yes, there’s plenty of evidence that removal of unnecessary useless habits can impact on our lives and those around us. 

So next time you’re about to toss out an old computer, you might consider how you dispose of it and where it might wind up.  Or even when you go to purchase a new one, check out to see whether the manufacturer has a commitment to help resolving the ewaste problem and is making products that are a little more environmentally friendly.  And maybe we also need to think about the wake we leave behind us in our daily lives with the people we encounter.  Many people are grieving in their own way and it’s very easy to misinterpret the way they relate to us at times and the way we deal with them could easily impact in a much more powerful way than we could ever realize.  A number of people I work with are feeling the impact of the death of a friend and colleague last week, so at the moment my awareness of this is much heightened.  It’s these moments when we feel our most compassionate and it’s incredible how a few kind words in our daily life to others can make their journey a little easier.



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