There’s a drought in California right now – we’ve received less rainfall than in recorded history.   So many posts on my Facebook feed are telling me to cut back on my water usage – take shorter showers, don’t leave the water running while I brush my teeth, etc.

U.S. Freshwater Usage, by percentage, from USGS data for 2005

U.S. Freshwater Usage, by percentage, from USGS data for 2005

I’m reminded of an essay from a few years ago called Forget Shorter Showers by Derrick Jensen.   In it he calls our attention to the disconnect between “solving” problems at the individual level while ignoring the global, systemic forces that cause the problems.  He wrote, poignantly:

Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to look beyond our individual lives and think about the systems of which we’re a part – otherwise, it’s impossible to address larger issues.  If we think only about using less water in our homes — which, though not hugely impactful, still is significant — we miss the big picture: freshwater in this country is being used to support unsustainable energy and agricultural systems.  So: in order to address the water shortage we have to work together to stop these earth-unfriendly practices.

How can this type of thinking move your mission and organization forward?  What can you do to move beyond an individual or organization centered focus to a broader perspective that responds to complex systems?