Progress Arises in Small Steps
Did you hear that last week, on February 28, the Obama Administration announced new regulations that will reduce the sulphur content of gasoline and thus lessen air pollution and related health problems such as asthma attacks? The regulations are called Tier 3 and promise to really help with America’s still-serious air pollution problem. (Of course, electric vehicles may do even more, if they are powered by wind-generated electricity rather than coal-generated electricity.)
I always dread the thick, sulphurous summer and fall air of the Philadelphia metro area, where I live. In fact, at times I’ve struggled with intense fear about air pollution and its horrible effects. But I also believe in noticing and celebrating progress when it occurs. We can choose despair or hope in regard to our environmental problems, and Tier 3 is definitely a cause for hope. It’s an effort toward Mutual Flourishing.
In more general terms, thinking about Tier 3 reminds me that sometimes progress appears in quiet ways. Tier 3 isn’t making the front page of newspapers, as far as I can see, but it’s meaningful and real. In our personal lives, whether we’re trying to lose weight, heal health problems, improve our work situation, or be better parents, “progress” isn’t something we achieve in a single day. “Progress” doesn’t let us say: “that’s it: I did it! No more effort required!” Progress arises in small steps. Those steps aren’t as alluring as a huge achievement, but they are more real. I like to believe they’re always pointing us in the right direction, each step taking us closer to a dearly held dream, whether it’s of clean air or a happier life.