Monday, September 8, 2008

If it ain't broke, why recycle?

The word of the day seems to be conservation. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say global warming is a real threat. You don’t have to be a farmer to notice the weather changes, the increased severity in some places and the nullification of seasons in others. But I still don’t recycle, unless you count burning our garbage to heat our house in the wintertime. I still don’t really want to switch to miniature cattle, like Dexters, even though they appear to be cheaper and easier to maintain on less acreage and produce less methane gas. Why? Because I, like many Americans, don’t see instantaneous results. Let’s face it: we are a nation obsessed with instant gratification. Watch any Sunday morning infomercial to see that in action. So if we don’t take the ten minutes a day to make ourselves svelte or can’t resist that extra piece of chocolate, even though we couldn’t button our jeans this morning, what makes anyone think we’re going to save the planet? There’s no tangible results for the everyday Joe or Jane to see.

In my opinion, it goes deeper than that, to changing the psychology of society itself. In ancient cultures, people showed respect for the earth. Where do we do that now? Do we thank the plants we harvest? Do we give the bull that makes our McDonald’s double-cheese burger a shout-out for dying so we can eat? Hell no. We try to teach the kids about timber cutting in the rain forest and acid rain but what do we teach them at home? Do we take them to the garden and teach them to thank the dandelions they pick? Do we tell them to thank the spirit of the pig that made the pork chop for supper or the bologna for their sandwich?

I would like to say that I do these things. I try to remember, but sadly, even I forget. It’s a change of habit and, as any alcoholic or smoker will tell you, changing the habits of a lifetime are the toughest. This is not a change that is related to politics or religion, it is a way of showing respect for the world around you and cultivating an appreciation for what we take from the earth and seldom give back. Because that, in my uneducated and humble opinion, is where people wronged the earth in the first place, we forgot to give back as much as we take. You wouldn’t stay friends with someone who took half your shit and didn’t return it, so why should the planet keep giving when we don’t give back, or even make an honest effort to?

All in all, try to respect the space around you. The results may surprise.