We have to try to solve local problems keeping global interests in mind. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote is about solving problems. We all have problems, issues, troubles, or whatever word you prefer to use. And we all need to solve them.
It is not about the actual mechanics of the solution, but it is about some of the parameters which should be included in the decision-making process. Nearly every problem has more than one solution.
Some solutions are a bit silly, others are impractical. This quote asks us to include the repercussions of our decisions on others, including the greater good, even at the global level.
Our personal contribution may not be much, but there are a lot of us out there. As large groups, we can make a global impact, for good or for ill. It helps to think before we act.
Why is thinking globally important?
Each decision we make has an impact on others, and the world as a whole. While our personal decisions may not have much of an impact, as a society, our decisions are multiplied by all the people with the same attitude. The larger the society, the more decisions can impact the world.
If a society like the USA decides to throw away instead of recycle, those resources are no longer available to future generations, and are a source of an immense amount of pollution or trash (depending on how it is disposed). Now imagine if a country the size of India or China decides to do the same.
We are each connected to others. If we can convince a couple people to be a bit more vigilant about recycling what can be recycled, we, as a person, generate less trash and more recyclable goods, but so do our friends. If they talk to others, we start having an impact on the local community.
This is often taken to extremes when Movie Stars and other people who think they are important start nagging us or trying to shame us into doing what they think is best. That doesn’t sit well with me, I prefer to come to my own conclusions based on facts. But such influence does have an impact.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Unless you have a global, or even national presence, you’re not going to be able to directly influence how people think or approach a particular problem. However, as I have mentioned before, we each have influence in our immediate circle. That may be just a friend or two, or it may be a town or city.
It is rare that a problem can be solved without causing other problems along the way. Feed the hungry? Great idea. How do you source, prepare, and distribute that food? You might solve one, but then there will be more. That’s just the way life is, at least in my experience.
How you solve one problem often influences what your secondary problems will be. The car in front of you slams on the brakes. You can solve this problem by hitting your brakes, or swerving into oncoming traffic. Each has secondary problems, being hit from behind, or hitting someone else head-on.
If you are alert and observant, you would know what traffic around you was like, and which of the options had the least serious secondary problems. When you start looking at problems not as individual things in need of solutions, and begin to treat them as the center of a cluster of problems, you get perspective.
With some perspective, you can more easily select the path with the fewest subsequent problems, or a set which are easier to solve. When you apply this broader perspective to the global setting (or at least larger area than just you and your immediate surroundings), you can see how your choices can impact others.
Getting back to trash, the more you recycle, the less you have to burn or bury, right? While the garbage dump a few miles from your house may be the immediate issue, if you think on a global scale, you realize that there are a lot of people making a lot of trash, which means a lot of garbage dumps.
If we could change our attitude towards the generation and disposal of such waste, the number of dumps could be greatly reduced. If your local garbage is burned instead of buried, thing of the reduction of pollution instead. In both cases, think of how the people down-wind might appreciate your decision.
It may be difficult for one person to change the world, but we can all change ourselves. Once we begin to take a longer-term and larger perspective view of our problems, we start to make better decisions in our solutions to local problems. And as we explain these ideas to others, the ripples in the pond spread.
We all have problems. How did you view them, and how might that have changed? What will you do differently as you consider your next step or your next problem? What new problems could arise from the solution presently under consideration?