Mind boggling, tragic, sad and scary is how I feel every time I journey to the local recycling centre in Harpenden as we prepare to move house. I should be happy that people are re-cycling and that the means for collecting and recycling are in place. It could have been worse. But as I dumped the things that local charities would not take, I am just shocked by some of the exceptionally good things that are being thrown away. But that is not what bothers me as much as the waste and the fact that WE are all living above our means – consuming more than is really needed to live a reasonably good life. How have I ended up like this and in this culture? Flash-back of my years in the Caribbean/Guyana and growing up in a land where much was scarce and very little was thrown away got me thinking. My family and local community up-cycled and re-cycled everything. My immediate family here in the UK and close friends must be tired with me noting how for almost everything I see in the recycling area I had suggestions as to how to convert and re-use. I must be in the wrong profession!
We must change but will only my clicks (likes) on face-book make a difference? Face-book, as one pundit suggests may be imaged as a country with more than 1.4 billion people. But what kind of country it is, can be, and what sort of citizen is it turning me into? Some face-book islands may carry the potential to change attitude – but many create islands of clicking zombies redefining social norms in unhelpful ways. Others may contend that it provides us with an opportunity “to begin the world over again” (to paraphrase Thomas Paine). We can dream on, but I (we) still need to change!
It may be that scientific advancement may come to our rescue. The pundits are inviting us to image a world where we think of something and it happens. I am looking forward to this! I agree that change will not happen if we are not able to image what the new will be. “We imagine, therefore we are”: perhaps there is hope for a different world as we start to imagine living simply and with less!! I want to imagine a world where we work less and sleep more, for again researchers are contending that lack of sleep affects the parts of the brain in charge of emotions and decision-making, and makes people more impulsive. Can it be that this lack of sleep has turned us into compulsive consumers, war-mongers, and hoarders?
In the meantime, I would support any move on the suggestion for a high-end tax on ‘selfish indulgence’ as history has shown that it is foolish and unwise to expect humans to consider the common good over their own wants. Would politicians like Corbyn, Sanders, Trudeau, and Sturgeon dare to start a movement that taxes ‘selfishness or self-interest’ as they work out a politics of compassion?
And, as the far-right politicians continue their mantra of keeping Europe Christian, I would hope that they would engender ways and actions that would reflect what it means to act and live like Christians and even support a tax on ‘selfishness’!
I am up for the challenge and I commit myself to change – to both deal with my despair and act on making a difference. Would you care to join me?
© jagessar October 25, 2015