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A Life Less Selfish. Plus, Do the Green Thing: My Video Chat with Andy Hobsbawm.

Skinny post 

Picture credit:  minimouseaunt


Full fat version posted here.


Once upon a time, a woman had a cow.

She put it on the village common to graze. That common was for everyone's benefit, so lots of families had their cow grazing there. The woman thought "Why not get another? I'll let that one graze too, and start growing my assets".

So she did, and her neighbours did the same, after all it's in their interest to increase their livestock numbers too.

They all got more and more cows and let them graze the common. One day someone noticed its cow carrying capacity was under a lot of pressure. Soon, the damage was so great the common was ruined and no one could graze even a single cow.

Here's the problem:

This dilemma was described in a famous article called "Tragedy of the Commons" by the ecologist Garrett Hardin. He said if people act individually, thinking primarily of their own self interest, they will eventually destroy a shared limited resource, even though it is obvious this will be in no one's long term interest.

If we want a kinder, more sustainable, better world, we are all responsible for helping make that happen and I reckon we can!

In the summer, I went to an event called Shift Happens 2.0 in York. I had chance to chat with Andy Hobsbawm from DoTheGreenThing.com. We talked about why we can't wait for politicians or for other people to solve the big issues of our time, we must each shoulder some responsibility to act and make things better.

Andy Hobsbawm from Reallygood Pictures on Vimeo.

You know what? I reckon changing how we live can be really hard work.

Course, no leader has everyone's support, or is above accountability, but we do need leaders who understand and care about the big issues that demand urgent attention.  (Please see this link for some updated context on Andy's Obama references.)

I know, it feels like a ball ache when we think about changing how we live, tell me about it.

The task seems so massive: my little changes (even my big ones!) are so, so, so, minuscule in a world of billions of people, huge corporations, and political and economic structures ravaging our planet. I'm not just talking about climate change. In a way that's a symptom of a lack of caring, a shortage of kindness, and a poor sense of the way our selfishness, choices, and actions affect others.

As Tony Schwartz from the Energy Project says "We’re all in this together, and we literally can’t afford to act any longer as if we’re each free to pursue our self-interest with blinders on.".

But a movement's started, it's gaining momentum, and we can be part of it. Actually, we must be part of it or we are all up Sh** Creek.

And I for one, don't want to end up like that woman with the cows.

Thanks very much for reading this post. I hope you found it useful. I'd love hearing what you think. Tell me what you think are the most encouraging signs we can turn things around? What do you tell yourself to help you focus on making a positive difference? See you in the comments.  (Please comment at the bottom of this link.)  Much love, Ian. 



  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running