It is a fact of Life that we are born, we die, and somewhere in-between we have to deal with matters of consequence.
Sure, this means different things to different people. The daily life of a mother on the Tibetan plains brings different concerns to those that confront the oil tycoon, the climate change scientist, or the CEO of the Gates Foundation (although some will say that they are all inextricably linked). The consequence of their actions matters but the scope of influence differs.
But, in the main, we live in a small world dealing with matters that affect us directly. From the time we shriek our first breath of air (and some stranger cuts the cord so we can never go back) we are dealing with matters of consequence. At the start it’s all about our own personal needs - food, warmth, environmental stimulation, bowel control, mobility, autonomy - preferably, but almost certainly never, in that order. And at some stage most of us learn that there is a bigger world outside ourselves. As teenagers we cry out against the obvious injustices - social, political, environmental - that in some way or other get thrust into our small sphere of existence.
But over time we come to appreciate a number facts that steadies our temperament with the reality that exists around us: parents are fallible, the world is unequal and unfair, nothing comes for free, and never pick a fight with someone who has nothing to lose (or rather, has a cause that is so integral to their being that they feel they have nothing to lose by fighting for it - unless, of course, you are sure you will win). And then, for better or worse, we become what’s commonly known as an adult.
And from then on there are all forms of matters of consequence in which we may concern ourselves. No doubt there are still personal matters to attend to but also relationship matters, family and household matters, social matters, work and career matters, financial matters, planning-for-the-future matters.
For those of us who work and whose endeavours, no matter how humble, lead to some change in the fabric of life, then these too become matters of consequence. The consequence is payment and (hopefully) some sense of achievement for the worker whilst benefiting the recipient, or cause, or meeting the mission statement/ goals of the work (whatever that may be). But never confuse movement with action as Hemingway once said. Of the many who fulfill a meaningful role in society there are some who do so through leadership and a great many more who do so through labour. Sure there are many self-serving individuals but also many well-meaning but ineffective people.
And, for those interested in such things, there has been a lot going on around the world over the past few weeks. Earthquakes in New Zealand, revolution(s) in North Africa, earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear uncertainty in Japan. Whether or not you believe that democracy can steer a course through the treacherous waters of collapsing social structure (the price of a barrel of oil is set to remain high for some time), or that Japan will be able to ride out another natural disaster with a weak and unpopular government (even without a palpable blip in the global economy the debate about the practicalities of nuclear power is again back on the table) these are matters of consequence even for those of us that are not directly affected.