Years ago while reading Grub (an awesome book filled with ideas for an urban organic kitchen), I was introduced to, and instantly connected with, the Wrong Bus Syndrome by Wangari Maathai, a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. It’s a simple-yet-powerful analogy for how and why we find ourselves headed in the wrong direction. While Maathai writes about The Wrong Bus Syndrome in her book The Challenge for Africa, it has so many applications for each and every one of our lives, our work, for our communities, our food industry, the way we treat the planet, and much more.
As Wangari Maathai puts it:
“Like travelers who have boarded the wrong bus, many people and communities are heading in the wrong direction or traveling on the wrong path, while allowing others (often their leaders) to lead them further from their desired destination.”
We all know how much trouble we get in when we get on the wrong bus, headed in the wrong direction. When we realize that we are on the wrong bus, it should be a pivotal point in our lives – so why don’t we just get off?
We are buying toxic products, eating processed food, drinking water from plastic bottles, wasting resources, and are so disconnected that we don’t feel directly responsible for most of what we do. Living and making choices on a daily basis, while thinking that our every action doesn’t matter, as if the meat we are eating from a factory farm or that a tomato picked by an illegal worker doesn’t affect us all, makes us believe somehow that it’s all OK, since it’s just what is.
There are options. We have choices. We are either part of the solution, or the problem. We need not accept what is actually in our own worst interest.