Traveling cross-country along the endless concrete ribbon, wastelands appear with unsettling regularity. Rather than the natural wastelands of little water and poor soil, (which, I must say, I find personally appealing, due, in part, to the clear lack of adulteration) the wastelands I’m finding unsettling consist of the architectural ruins of abandoned strip malls and the cast-off remains of excessive consumption: plastic bags, destroyed shopping carts, unidentifiable Styrofoam and cardboard pieces, TV and microwave carcasses: detritus of all sorts.
I suppose, at this point, it would be appropriate for me to spin the story of my own Spartan existence. How I live hand to mouth, without frills or material comforts of any sort and how I donate any extra resources I may acquire to the truly needy. But, the fact is I’m as guilty of accumulating excesses as the next materialist; I know I have more than I need. I can offer a nearly unending list of things I have more than one of, where one is clearly sufficient.
On the one hand, I wish it were otherwise, but, on the other, I guess my consumption is a good thing in some ways. I’m fairly constantly reminded, via multiple media outlets, that the economy must grow to be healthy, that if it stagnates it will not be a good thing, so, I guess I have a responsibility to do my part.
Which, I must say, puts me in a paradoxical position: while I feel a moral obligation to try to limit my consumption, considering the finite nature of the earth’s resources, I’m obligated to buy, buy, buy; and then to discard, discard, discard. Maybe I can focus on a bit more recycling and a little less discarding without upsetting the delicate balance between consumption and privation.
And, maybe, the commercial industries and their advertising associates could temper their rush to profits in favor of a bit more ecological thoughtfulness.