I hadn’t thought about the etymology of ‘to bewilder’ until I wrote the title of this post. Since the late 1600s, it has been used in the way we use it now: ‘to confuse as to direction or situation’. However, the clue is in the word itself, directing us to its more archaic origin: ‘to lure into the wilds’. That sounds far more alluring; I’ll go with that.

I keep asking myself what I can do to make the world better. If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling the same: you’re one of those people for whom responsibility weighs heavily; we feel the need to change everything that’s wrong – and there’s a lot – but we don’t know where to start. When I think about one problem, usually climate change, I then think about the broken political system, American elections, corruption in UK Government, covid-19, Brexit, biodiversity loss, and any focus I started with is immediately lost…again….

And another day drifts by…

I don’t want to look back on my life and realise that I spent decades worrying but achieved nothing. But again – what to do? where to start?

Today’s blog is about sharing that angst; about reaching out there to people who feel the same; about sharing the torment and the unmapped journey; and perhaps, sub-consciously, hoping that someone out there will read it and tell us exactly what we have to do.

As an English teacher, I do console myself with the knowledge that I’m able to help and nurture teenagers and guide them towards becoming questioning, critical, analytical, creative thinkers. Perhaps that’s enough. I can launch eco-initiatives in school, helping students connect with and develop a love for nature. Is that enough?

A few years ago I thought I’d found the ‘thing’ I was meant to do to make a difference. I worked as the ghost-writer for the autobiography of Sir John Houghton. A wonderful, modest man and one of the world’s most respected climate scientists, John was one of the first to identify the CO2 problem in the 1960s and as Chair of the Science Working Group of the IPCC had been on the frontline of the science/oil industry battles which delayed progress on climate change for decades. His story needed reading at the time, to help us get over the disinformation hurdle, but at 80+ years old and with a strong Christian morality, he refused to court publicity by sleeping with supermodels or causing a bar-room brawl, so the book remained largely unnoticed. It’s still out there, but it’s not donning a coat of shining armour and galloping off the bookshelves to the rescue of the distressed earth. Sadly.

Myecopledge.co.uk is another attempt. Maybe this time…

To clear my head, I usually do ‘lure myself into the wilds’ or deliberately ‘bewilder’ myselfwith a run or a bike ride. Enjoying the latter one Sunday morning, I thought about the fact that in baptism and later in confirmation, a life is pledged to God. How much better it would have been had we all pledged our lives to our planet, or to nature. Controversially, what if God had never replaced Mother Earth at all? A few wooded hills and turns of the pedals later, I came up with a simple idea: we pledge to put nature first in every decision we ever make. But that’s tricky to define and quantify, so I needed something more specific. Instead, myecopledge.co.uk encourages us to do more of the smaller things in our lives by counting them, so we know it counts. I hope eventually to use these running tallies as evidence to prove to people in power that we want change.

But what if making these pledges distracts us from the bigger problems that need fixing? We need macro and micro.

Over a series of future blogs (or eventually vlogs if I dare try), I plan to find out what ordinary people like you and I are doing to help to secure a better future, or any future at all. If you have any suggestions for people who might make interesting studies, please let me know.

Maybe their stories will be the inspiration we need. Maybe they’ll bewilder us, leading us off the trodden track and into the wilds of who we can be and of what we can do, and luring us forward into the wilderness. A exciting thought.