Concern for the World
You are compassionate and have a genuine wish for the health and happiness of all beings, but sometimes your wish goes astray. When you reflect on the inequity of resource distribution, you might find yourself slipping into hopelessness. You begin to suffer about suffering. One of my zen teachers called this "suffering plus one". It's not very helpful. What can you do to move from "suffering plus one" to connected awareness plus contribution?
Wise action flows from wise attention. Hopelessness is a sign of unwise attention. You followed your thoughts through various stories about a doomed planet or some version therein. So hopelessness (along with the other alarm feelings- guilt, depression, anger, & shame) is an important cue. It tells you to notice where you are putting your attention.
One form of wise attention regarding your concern for the world is to follow the four elements of Compassionate Communication. I am going to go through them one by one in order relative to this topic. First, name what you heard or saw that triggered this latest bout of hopelessness. Was it someone you saw on the way to work, a story on the radio, a bit of news on TV or something else?
Next allow yourself the space to feel the grief of the suffering you witnessed. Grief is a connected and expansive feeling. If you begin to feel heavy, collapsed, or shut down, you have moved out of grief and into reactivity. Grief is also a feeling that has it's own life. You don't decide to grieve. You simply make space for it by sitting quietly. It will arise and fall of its own accord.
Third, name the specific needs/values up for you when you witnessed the event you named above. They might be one or more of these: compassion, fairness, contribution, hope, mutuality, appreciation, respect.
Fourth, give your attention to the ways you are already meeting those needs in your daily life. Your list might include things that are an integrated part of your lifestyle like biking to work, buying organic food, sharing your smile and consideration equally with all you encounter, etc. There are many helpful books that name these simple things. What I want to emphasize is not the things you do, but rather the quality of attention you give them. Hanging your laundry out to dry saves resources, but when you do it begrudgingly because you know you should, you are adding to the web of suffering.
When you name the things you already do to live in accord with your compassion for other living beings, go slowly and let yourself feel the quality of intention with each thing you do. This is wise attention.
Lastly, knowing your strengths and unique gifts, you can ask yourself: "Is there is anything else I would like to do and could do generously from my heart?" Wise action arises from this wise attention.