Have you ever made yourself thoroughly frustrated trying to convince someone about what really matters?
In the early 90s I tried to explain to women, who really just wanted a flattering shade of lipstick and a good moisturizer, that slight rises in temperatures of the globe really mattered. I tried to advise parents to stay away from the aquarium, because their admission supported the suffering of the captive dolphins inside. Their lives mattered. I remember trying to convince loggers that the biodiversity of the temperate rainforest mattered.
How could they not see that? It was obvious! It mattered!
What I didn’t see then as I see now is that it’s not so much that it mattered. It’s that it mattered to me. These were things I felt passionate about. I poured my heart and money and energy into these causes. I created businesses and joined organizations in support of these issues. Not because they matter. Because they matter to me. As my friend Bodhi says: All meaning is personal.
I had the luxury of letting those things matter. I didn’t have a terminal illness or a sick child. I had clean water in my home, a home that wasn’t being foreclosed. I lived in a safe country. No bombs dropping in my neighbourhood, no gangs ruling my street.
What matters to me depends on many things. I’ve learned that to have issues beyond my survival matter to me is a privilege that comes with having my basics needs met.
It’s also true that what matters to me changes throughout my life. When I was a kid the colour of stitching on my jeans mattered. Now it matters that my garden supports bees, butterflies and birds.
I still find myself from time to time separating myself from others with my views about what matters. Like when I heard Peter Brabek, the Chairman of Nestle say that water is not a human right I was shocked. I couldn’t believe his company would consider water a foodstuff to be used for profit with no regard for human life. I raged and screamed and then I cried. And once I let all that emotion flow throw me I felt better. Less powerless. I could think more clearly. I could alert others about the company’s position. Those who don’t mind can keep buying Nestle products and those who think this matters can boycott and tell others. We can all do what matters in our own way.
Believing what matters to me should also matter to others is a recipe for conflict. It creates a divide between us. When I can accept that what matters to me is a reflection of my background, opportunities, health, financial situation and life choices, I can easily accept that what matters to me doesn’t have to matter to you. And when you tell me quite passionately about what really matters, I understand that it matters to you.
You can find a list of Nestle products for US and Canada here.