We crave definition. We want to think of ourselves as special. Something that will make us stand out in the millennia from all the other schmucks that have walked the face of this earth. We tend to use an event, personality or accomplishment and dub it with being life altering for better or worse.
After separating a period of time we look back and cast a yea or nay as to its significance. Historians pore over it from every vantage point but it strikes me as interesting that we look back and try not to commit the same mistakes again. Rarely do we see it as a work in progress but rather something to look at from the rear view mirror. I find this intriguing in that respect. We only learn of our erroneous ways after we have screwed things up. There should be a better way.
Some of our folly in epochs is our desire to put our personal imprint on things. Obama, Bush, Clinton, all wanted to preserve their legacies. Obamacare, MidEast wars, peace talks are the consummate trophies of egotism. Jack Welch, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were indeed dynamic and rewarded shareholders alike. I admire their desire to make a change for the better but do we fall prey to man’s ego lest God forbid that person or company just be considered ordinary. Maybe a good steward should be ample reward. This is contrary to our current beliefs.
I have just read a Shepherd’s Life. It is the story of a young man in the dells of England whose entire being is wrapped up in the breeding and maintenance of sheep. His love and dedication of his chosen profession was palpable as he saw nature at its best and worst. He praised a sun that nourished his fields and cursed the snow and wind that presented incredible challenges to his very existence.
Throughout the book was reference to lineage and family. He was tending the flock as his family had for generations. It was a mantle he wore proudly and with a sense of ultimate responsibility. He would teach his children and hope they would continue on in his stead. He was constantly aware of new ideas to improve his breeds but there was also a way to do things that were time worn.
In former times the steward was a servant who made sure his area of expertise was up to snuff whether is be the castle itself or particular pieces like the scullery or wine cellar. Of course the latter would have been my druthers. As wont would have it the cream came to the top and eventually you were made El Supremo for the whole operation. Yet rarely did you deviate from the norm as this is the way we have always done things and if you don’t like it, leave.
There is a tranquility to this viewpoint but at what point does that breed mediocrity and blandness? Tough question. I think of nature itself. You know I consider the world as a whole and we all play our parts. The food chains and weather cycles have an order to them that I feel should not be broken. As man, do I look at it as my plunder to use any way I want or do I have a responsibility for it and its implications for every other being and organism?
Back to that pithy question of progress and at what cost? The Industrial Era has brought wealth to more than a few and our lives are undeniably better for it. The Technology Age is of the same. On the other hand our climate is changing. Did we cause it? Dunno, but I do believe many of our industries exacerbate whatever trend is present. We use fertilizer for our fields to increase yield but you only have to see the green slime of Lake Okeechobee to know that something is amiss.
The Graduate saw the future of the world in plastics. This substance has many incredible uses but at the same time it lives on in dumps and oceans for beyond our lifetimes. Can you really say ,”Tough shit” as you toss away your liter sized polystyrene Diet Coke bottle? Your styrofoam coffee cup is replicated billions of times a day. As you travel cross country the rusting hulks of autos, trucks and abandoned RV’s dot the landscape. Who cares? We have got plenty of room for empty fields and dump sites to “dispose “ of things. Yeah but for how long? Oh, I am sorry I forgot we will be long gone when that becomes a problem.
Let’s get back to good old capitalism. Have we really used our country’s financial resources properly? Do we spend smart or stupid? Do we really need five TVs in our houses? Could all the money we spend on defense be used to further healthcare or nutrition? We build golf courses in deserts. We have well manicured lawns extraordinare while one of biggest problems in the future is going to be the availability of water.
I am not joining the Sierra Club although their efforts are well taken. I am also not giving up my golf membership at wherever country club. But I do consider as I get on in years just what I am leaving my kids and grandkids and their kids to deal with. And that is really my point. I not only want to act but I want to THINK responsibly. As one gets caught up in the good life I just want us to stop for a moment and consider. Are we stewards of all we have been blessed with or are we just part of an Obscene Consumption Era that wants to emboss our generation with a monogram rather than commonweal? I am going to think about that and I hope you do too.
Ted The Great
We generate 250 million tons of trash every year as a nation. These are put in landfills or mountains of garbage which as they decompose create methane gas which is more lethal than carbon dioxide. 28% of the crud is wasted food. You do know that 35% of our foodstuffs are wasted due to throw away at the dinner table or spoiled meat and produce?
World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined. U.S. military spending dwarfs the budget of the #2 country, China by almost three to one.
We spend $95 billion on medical research or about 18% of our military budget. We earmark a couple of billion for Alzheimers and around $500 mill on depression. That compares with $1.5 billion on addiction. Now if you understand that depression is a major cause of addiction do we have our priorities straight? By the way the new F22 Raptor airplane will have the Air Force paying about $340 million per copy.
The average household can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water per year by leaky pipes and faucets. We waste over 1.3 billion tons of food per annum which is bad enough but it took 45 trillion gallons of water to create that stuff we threw away. Simply amazing.