Small Potatoes

“This is just small potatoes.” That is what a young man told me in response to my suggestion that he think about the wildflowers his electric scooter was destroying. I was walking in a new city park and noticed the scooter flying off paved trails into the ‘natural’ area. The young man felt what he was doing was just “small potatoes” in overall impact on the environment compared to the greater scheme of things. I felt sad that I caused him any suffering by harshing his enjoyment, and even sadder that he felt his impact had no consequence.

We have a tendency to think our individual impact on the planet is minimal. But add all the “small potatoes” together and you get an entire planet trampled for human enjoyment. We are so removed from our indigenous roots that we do not feel the pain we inflict on living things. From a Buddhist perspective, this is because we are disconnected from our original mind, the true nature of awareness. 

The original nature of mind and the natural world are inseparable, but the idea of a separate self prevents us from experiencing that connection. Nature reflects this insanity through things like climate change and Bison. People actually become so fixated on getting a selfie with a Bison in Yellowstone National Park that they get gored and terribly injured. We are also being gored by climate change due to being oblivious about our impact on the earth and denial of the earth’s natural cycles.

So, “small potatoes” are not small after all. But they are delicious in potato salad. (I don’t want to end on a dark note : )

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