Rounding error, walking intersections, and new fires

Dear President Biden,

For several days I’ve been saving two ideas from two very different sources that on their faces don’t seem to marry up especially well. I’ve kept them perched up here at the top of the Word document where I write my letters to you and I’ve been scrolling past them the last couple of days, something I used to do a lot when I was writing to your predecessor but that I’ve not done much at all with you (with him I was constantly finding things to rail about and some days there were just too many, so they’d get saved at the top of the file for possible use later).

So what are these nuggets?

The first is an idea from that awesome new (to me) podcast I told you about the other day How to Save A Planet (episode: “Is Your Carbon Footprint BS?”) and it’s that even if I were to do a perfect job all the time of reducing my carbon footprint down to the barest minimum, the impact would be so small as to be rounding error. The hosts did the math and the overall carbon reduction per perfectly-ecologically-behaving individual would be something like .0000000003% so they concluded that, essentially, our actions are many places past negligible.

Of course they didn’t leave it there, but I’ll get to the rest of it in a sec.

The second is something (Tariq) Black Thought of The Roots said in a WP interview with Geoff Edgars the other day. In talking about coming through life, and especially making it through hard circumstances, Black Thought said: “we’re walking intersections.” He fleshes out the idea beautifully, but it was those three words – “we’re walking intersections” that grabbed me. Very Buddhist; I can picture Thich Nhat Hanh smiling in response to those three words.

And now, fresh off the press we get to add this gem from Rep. Cori Bush reacting to the news that the CDC is going to extend the moratorium on evictions to October 3rd:

“There is a new fire in every single person that’s out here right now,” she added. “You’ve got to share it because that’s how we change our world.”

Coming back to the idea that we’re all basically just blips and whatever positive change we each might be able to effect individually is simply rounding error – well, it doesn’t feel so bad if we remember that we’re social beings who’re inextricably connected to one another, that we’re all walking intersections (or rolling or however it is we move through this world).  What I do, and, critically, what I share about what I do, may kindle a new flame in you. In turn, what you share about what you do could set someone else’s passions alight and so on as we harness our collective energies to change the world.

No surprise – this was the conclusion on the podcast, but I think Black Thought and Bush both articulated the idea more poetically and so even though I could have just told you the whole thing in one quick go, I wanted to pull in these other voices and ways of framing the issues. I hope you don’t mind.

May we all be safely housed.
May we be willing to speak up about whatever we’re doing in service of the greater good.
May we be strong enough to allow ourselves to be inspired and changed by others.
May we accept that we’re all in this together.

Tracy Simpson

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