When we first begin to dabble in the world, as children, we may bump up against finite resources from time to time. Say, for example, we reach the end of the supply of blocks, or of finger paint, perhaps there is a shortage of toy cars or cookies. We begin to formulate ideas about relative abundance and define shortage as points in time that our desire outweighs what is immediately available. in our adult life, we can look about us and see plenty of examples of shortages, both real and perceived that challenge our way of looking at the world and how we fit ourselves into the economy, society and the world around us. The time has come for us to realize that the vast majority of desire is a trap. Liberation from the shackles of desire is the opening of new realms of possibility. A recent book title, Manufactured Consent speaks to the malleable nature of both belief and desire, implying that there are those among us who wield the power to create desire where there had been none before and that the things we need most can be supplemented or supplanted with hollow shells of their former selves at will by powerful elites. Most of us, who have been parents, know all too well the power of persuasion in creating the illusion of peace.
A favorite line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding is spoken by the mother who says that her husband is the head of the household, but she is the neck. we often act as head turners for one another, trying to get others to look at things a bit differently, so pardon my gentle redirection. consider for a moment how many times you have heard that it is a dog eat dog world, that life is a bad word and then you die, or other disparaging remarks about how things are going from bad to worse. don’t think about the message, just how many times you have had the sentiment held out as fact. i am going to offer the opposite fact and try to support it as best I can.
When we are dealing with children and the cookies run out, we may offer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or remind them that there is some other treat that can be substituted. running up against the limits inherent in the physical realm demands that we learn to substitute one thing for another. Some of us are beginning to learn this regarding resources that we never though would become precious. Many of the things we value are just resources that are in short supply. The paradox is that some of the most valuable items are often the most available ones as well. Air, water, food and love are surrounding us and more or less available all the time. In some cases we may need to use a little creativity to assure their availability, but they are essential to our well being and all around us in most areas of the planet. We get in trouble when we begin to think of things that are non-essential as important.
If we did not feel the need to move our bodies across the planet at breakneck speed, we would reduce significantly the air pollution that we spew with our transportation system. If we did not feel the need to drink exotic juices or carbonated beverages, we could reduce further the contamination of local water supplies and the supply chains for these products could wilt and wither. I occasionally carry a lump of lapis lazuli and part of the thrill of it is that it only had one way out of Afghanistan. It had to be carried by foot over the Hindu Kush. The intelligence and tenacity of a human being brought me that stone and I respect and revere the individual whose sweat and breath made it possible for me to enjoy that rock. When we begin to look more closely into any of the myriad products that come to our hand, an amazing kaleidoscope of patterns often opens up in front of our eyes. When we begin to ask, what is the true cost of everything, we can begin to get a sense of the true costs and value of pre-cycling, re-use, repair, resource depletion, efficiency, compost, recycling and in a broad sense the cost and value of our use characteristics. We live on a planet that provides what is essential to life and it is high time that we recognize what we are doing with the infinite abundance of the planetary “services” that nature provides us.