Is this the best I can do?

Article en français ici


(I’m especially grateful to Richard MORRIS for the english translation)

I am a 26 year old photographer and videographer from France. I decided to completely change my life as a result of a growing awareness of the state of our world, and the consequences which we must face in the future. I want to explain how I reached this point, why I am doing what I’m doing, and what I envisage doing next. 

For me 2019 has been a year of great upheaval. I completely called into question everything that I thought about the world, about society, and about what I wanted to do with my life. Moreover, for the first time I am asking myself questions such as Why am I here? Does everything I do make sense? What is my purpose? But it’s also the first time that I’m seeing the world in its entirety, without simply being completely focused on myself and my own future. It’s the first time that I realize that my choices have consequences on the other side of the world, that everything is linked.

About two years ago, in 2017, I was finishing my photography course at Gobelins (in Paris) and I was just entering the world of work. Little by little I began to note down the way that I intended to spend my money, my patterns of consumption and my impact on the planet in general. All the articles that I read and the videos that I watched were leading me towards taking some action. Each of us  must do what he or she can, whether it’s becoming a vegetarian, buying organic products, buying and acting locally, aiming for zero waste… without too much change to one’s lifestyle. I followed all of this advice for most of the year, and I was quite proud of myself at that moment, even finding it fun to discover the alternatives.

But I wanted to go further, to understand better what I was doing and why I was doing it.

It was completely illogical for me to be « eco » at home, but not at work

As I continued to research I became increasingly sad and depressed by what I was reading. I listened to all the scientists, the politicians, the researchers… and I realized that the situation was much worse than I had imagined and that small actions themselves would not be enough. I was ‘brought down’ by all of the depressing facts that they announced. The scenario that we are living in today is the worst and the most unjust, and scientists have been telling us about it for 40 years now. I was dismayed by those people who think that it is already too late, scared by the possibility of total destruction. Not wanting to lie to you, that stuff doesn’t sell dreams. When I started to speak about these things, nobody was ready to do anything; they were simply refusing to listen, not wanting to discuss the issue. 

At the time I was working for a photo-retouching business which was based around advertising and fashion. I finally realized that it was completely illogical for me to be “eco” at home, but not at work. In my head, everything that I had been trying to achieve was reduced to nothing by the fact that I was working in advertising, which always feeds overconsumption. In addition, the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world. Nothing made sense to me in what I was doing. I was completely lost. I wanted to stop everything.

“Anyhow, we can never be perfect, we never asked to be brought into the world, and shouldn’t we just try to be as happy as possible, Isn’t that what the world’s looking for, happiness?” my friend said to me. 

Essentially, she’s not wrong. I was obsessed by all the bad things around me that were ruining life and leaving me completely bitter… and unhappy. We can do better than we’re doing, but we can’t be perfect all the time. But am I really doing all that I can do? Deep down I’m only doing as much as I can do without causing any major upset to my lifestyle, without putting myself at risk at all. I was trying to include ecology in my life whereas really I should be making sure that ecology is my life; that my life is bound up with ecology. It was down to me to make the effort. The earth has given so much to us, without ever asking for anything in return. And now it is starting to die, and this is our own fault. Doesn’t it deserve more than just getting a few minutes of our attention every day?  Isn’t it time to stop our stupidity, and to fight for its preservation?

Why ecology in particular?

This struggle brings together everything, and goes far beyond our personal evolution, our daily life and our environment. It makes us think about what we really need and face the reality of society today’ and of the consequences of its decisions. Constantly it makes us question things, and consider other living beings and the whole of nature as subjects, rather than mere objects. It leads us to act in ways which are more conscientious and respectful. I want to think that we can all act together, in several areas at once, each in the area that is right for him or her, according to the individual’s heartfelt conscience. And not just by eco-gestures – these are necessary, but not enough by themselves, because it must not be forgotten that only 90 corporations have been responsible for 63% of global carbon emissions worldwide… we are not the only ones who have to change – the whole system must change. And every action counts, even though by itself each action is incomplete.

If we can’t manage to be free and equal among ourselves (…) how can we develop our way of seeing other species on this planet?

There must be some direct action, action on behalf of the weakest, for the sake of biodiversity in general. This must involve changing our work, our transport, our housing, our food, doing something for the struggle against air pollution, for the oceans… or thoroughly transforming the core of our whole system (economic, political, social, education). For if we can’t manage to be free and equal among ourselves, regardless of sex, culture, religion, how can we develop our way of seeing other species on this planet? There is so much that needs to be done, so much that needs to be undone, and so much to create. I think we should use this ecological struggle as an opportunity not simply to do the things that we do well, but also to allow us to blossom. Just imagine if each of us made use of our expertise and our passions in the service of this cause. Passion is a real asset that we should make the most of in this struggle. It is because of passion that we can succeed and evolve, even after several failures. It helps us learn better, understand better, and advance faster!

But… What comes next?

I understand that doing nothing is not the solution, indeed it may be the worst thing, because the destruction would continue anyway.

I want to do things that have real sense for me, and for which I have a passion. I was fine retouching photos, having a quiet life. I had a job which I liked, some great colleagues, some incredible friends, a flat, financial security. I had all the ingredients for happiness and yet … I left it all. I did this because life is short, and therefore it is important to give it some sense. It is because our time is limited that we must use it wisely. Now I have decided to use all of my time, my ability and my passion in a more intelligent way, for the good of ecology.

If we manage to understand ourselves better and to communicate better, we will eventually be able to help each other more and to anticipate the shocks that are to come

Global warming concerns the whole planet, but the consequences, the means, the resources and the solutions will not be the same for everyone, because each country is different due to its geography, its environment, its climate, its culture and its wealth.  I think that if we are to combat what is ahead of us, we must neither judge each other nor have fear of each other. Fear is often linked to the unknown. If we manage to understand ourselves better and to communicate better, we will eventually be able to help each other more and to anticipate the shocks that are to come.

It is for this reason that I want to travel outside of France, with a view to being open to others. I also want to research and to share with you, through photos and videos, what is happening elsewhere. I want to stay a long time in the same country, in order to have the time to meet directly with whichever groups and associations are active in the struggle. I want to hear those people who have things to tell us all. Where needed, I want to be able to give my help, assisting locally. I want to discover their projects, their actions, their propositions, and to offer you the benefit of what I learn during my voyage.

Over several years Australia has been confronted by some extreme meteorological conditions

I am going to begin my travel in Australia, because other than the fact that Australia has several important advantages for the start of this project (for instance it is an Anglophone country for which I am able to have a one-year visa), over several years Australia has been confronted by some extreme meteorological conditions which could be interesting to research. For example, some areas have suffered from serious droughts or fires, having scorching temperatures, while others have been the victim of floods as a result of torrential downpours. Also because of rising sea temperatures, the Great Barrier Reef has suffered from bleaching over a number of years. This has led to part of it disappearing. The Great Barrier Reef is, I recall, the biggest ecosystem of coral reefs on our planet.

How am I going to earn a living and finance this project?

To be honest, I have no idea, and even though I understand that this could be troublesome, I don’t want money to be a central issue in my actions. It is necessary to take a different outlook, and rethink certain things, because after all, it is our way of thinking that has brought us to where we are. In this ultra-materialist world the only future that is conceivable is one of sobriety. Living only with the bare essentials – this concept as part of the life of a traveler fascinates me. To be as minimalist as possible.

“Throughout our journey we will be looking for collaborative exchanges, and partnerships.”

I should explain that I am not going to be travelling alone! At least not at the start. My cousin, Neven aged 21, is also very affected by what is happening. For this reason he has offered to join me on this project, with a view to helping me, but also so that he himself can fulfil his wish of participating in this project.

We are going to travel with very few means, without our own transport, travelling wherever possible in ways that are respectful of the planet. In this way, throughout our journey we will be seeking out collaborative exchanges, or partnerships. This means offering our time and our skills (photography, videos, etc.) to people looking for help, in exchange for food, accommodation, premises in which to work, etc… This step is quite important because the idea is not to travel quickly, seeing as many things as possible, but rather to take our time travelling in a country, with a view to spending weeks or months in the company of the people there. I want to be more greatly implicated in the lives of people (if that is their wish too) in order to understand their needs and how they live on a daily basis.

How can people follow me?

This project serves as a way of transmitting the knowledge and learning that I am going to attain along the way. The reports, the documentaries and the photo shoots will be available on my internet site, and also on my YouTube channel and on my Instagram account. In this way people will be able to follow me and communicate with me, but also I will be able to consolidate ideas and innovations in the hope of inspiring and motivating as many people as possible. I want to be able to suggest courses of action to anyone who is willing to take part in what is the greatest struggle of our time.

This journey is for me a leap in the dark and, to be honest, I am a bit apprehensive. I have quit everything in order to be completely involved in ecology, even though I still don’t know a great deal about it. I have a lot of unanswered questions. I don’t really know what to expect and if I can really have an impact. But, despite all that, I am extremely happy to take this decision, and I remain very positive and confident. In addition to involving myself in ecology, I am giving myself the opportunity to do something about which I really feel passionate, and which has a real sense for me.

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Don’t hesitate to contact me if you know anyone in Australia who might be interested by this project, or if you yourself have any projects or questions for me.

Netflix

  • Our planet
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Cow spiracy
  • Chasing coral
  • Océans
  • Before the flood
  • Terra

Youtube

Podcast

  • ThinkerView (only french)
  • Sismique (only french)
  • Présages (only french)
  • PlanetEarthonly (english)
  • ça comment par moi (only french)

Websites / Articles

book (only french)

  • « Comment tout peut s’effondrer  » de Pablo Servigne et Raphaël Stevens
  • « Petit manuel de résilience contemporaine » Cyril Dion
  • « Vers la sobriété heureuse » Pierre Rabhi
  • « l’âge des low-tech » Philippe Bihouix

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