And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Friday, June 02, 2006

Up on My Soapbox

Ok, I am just going to say it...I am a "doom-sayer". And I am becoming more and more of one as I get older and can really understand what I am talking about. And I am getting more frightened with each passing year. Growing up, we talked about pollution and the greenhouse effect in school. I always assumed that with all that concern, that something would change by the time I "grew up". Well, while I am still young, I am a wife and a mother, I pay bills and taxes, and I am beginning to realize that I AM a grown up (I know, Mom, it shocked me too). All that is scary enough, but to realize that not only has nothing been done about these problems but we are actively becoming MORE of a consumerist society really terrifies me. A part of me wants to believe I am just being alarmist, and I hope I am. But I can't really dismiss the facts. I am not going to spout a lot of statistics here, because if you are reading this you can google them just like everyone else. I just want to get my thoughts out there into the Great Cosmic Void.

Peak Oil is the buzzword of the day right now. With rising gas costs, how could it not be? But in reality, that is just a part of the problem. We are dealing with global warming, toxic waste disposal, hormones and chemicals in nearly every food you can buy, acid rain, smog, clear-cutting of forests, etc, etc. And those are only the environmental factors. You also have to consider the rest of the problem. I don't remember the numbers (again, google is good if you are interested), but I remember reading an article some years back on the un-godly number of high school students in America that, when given a map of North America, could not place the U.S, Mexico, and Canada in the right places. OK, so maybe that isn't so important. I mean really, how often do I need to know that in day to day life. But you can draw some pretty scary conclusions as to the quality of public education in this country. And yet you need a high school diploma to make minimum wage at McBurger joints working the cash register. And you don't even want to get me started on what the inflation/wage increase discrepencies are like. Health care costs are astronomical, and there is a huge percentage of Americans who can't afford insurance. Parents have no knowlege or control over what their kids are doing, and don't seem to care. Yet they feel they have the right to scream and moan when their child becomes a drug addict or a gang member, thief or a murderer. We watch the news and bemoan the high crime, corrupt politicians, and general state of the world. And yet no-one does anything about it. We ignore the little things we can do in our day to day lives that make a difference. Spend a little time with our kids. Recycle. Carpool. Work closer to home. Grow a garden. Plant a tree. Turn off the TV. Shop and eat locally. None of these things would take much time or effort, but how many of us do? We comfort ourselves with the thought that "that will never happen to me", or "there is nothing I can do, anyway". We distract ourselves with the pursuit of a bigger house, newer car, larger paycheck. It's an epidemic of apathy, and all the while we are hurtling faster and faster towards a collapse of the very system that created and perpetuates the belief that these things matter.

Now, maybe for some people these things really do make them happy. But if anything makes you happy, you don't feel the need to replace it with something bigger and better as soon as the novelty wears off, do you? As far as I can tell, the things that really make people happy are "doings" and "beings", not "havings". I like my car, it gets me from A to B. It does not make me happy, though. Something that makes me happy is tickling my DD until she squeals with laughter. I like my apt, for the most part. It keeps the rain off my head and the cold winds outside where they belong. But it doesn't make me happy. Working hard in my garden, serving the first meal with fresh picked snap peas and watching my family enjoy and take nourishment from them makes me happy. Can you see a pattern? The things that make me happy are not the things I have, they are the things I do. The only thing I don't have that I need to be really happy is the security of knowing that no matter what happens concerning oil prices or mutated food or electricity shortages, I will be able to provide for my family. But I am working on that. I just hope the end of the world waits long enough for me to get there.

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