Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why do we bother?

I was doing a little reading on my lunch break today and I came across a link to an editorial written by Michal Pollan for the New York Times in April of this year. Micheal Pollan wrote "The Omnivore's Dilemma" in my side bar and a couple of other books including "In Defense of Food" which I haven't yet had a chance to read.

This is from this editorial:
"For us to wait for legislation or technology to solve the problem of how we’re living our lives suggests we’re not really serious about changing — something our politicians cannot fail to notice. They will not move until we do. Indeed, to look to leaders and experts, to laws and money and grand schemes, to save us from our predicament represents precisely the sort of thinking — passive, delegated, dependent for solutions on specialists — that helped get us into this mess in the first place. It’s hard to believe that the same sort of thinking could now get us out of it. "

He asks the question "Why Bother?". Why, when the climate is drastically changing faster than we (as individuals) could correct it and when the oil is running out faster than we can even imagine, why bother with changing our lightbulbs or using fabric shopping bags, or biking to work, or growing a garden, or composting, or recycling? How can any of these things really make a difference? So what if I reduce, recycle and reuse. If the guy down the street doesn't, isn't he just going to consume the resources I don't? Maybe even faster, too? What's the point?Even though we are committed to this, I can't help but question this myself sometimes.

Michael Pollan does a great job of validating my thoughts for me in this editorial. We do it because maybe, just maybe, it might encourage someone else to do it. We do it because someone has to...why not start at home? We do it because when all else seems overwhelming, doing the little things really do make you feel better. We do it because we take pride in producing our own food and reducing our impact on the planet. We do it because it's important to us, to our future and to our survival (one day). And ultimately, even though it's a lot of work, we do it because we enjoy it.

In some ways, it reminds me of the ads on TV from "Woodsy the Owl" in the 70's. Remember those? Or the indian with the tear running down his face? Would you throw a piece of paper out the window of your car just because "it so small, it hardly matters"? What if everyone did that and our roadways are lined with trash and garbage? Just because 'everyone is doing it' doesn't make it right. We need to change the way we think. If I want to change others, I need to first make the change for myself.

Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Ghandi

And a few other posts by Michael Pollan at Amazon:

1 comment:

Grey said...

It's hard, and sometimes I ask myself why I bother either - but I try to live by example. Every time I manage to explain to someone that the plastic bags take 1,000 years to decompose into various toxins, I've just educated one more person. Maybe it isn't enough for them all to change, but if it even changes ONE more person, and they tell others, it's a chain reaction that might grow and take hold. Maybe. I hope. What else do we have, but hope?