jusummerhayes

A material world

“Earth's crammed with heaven...
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

Don't worry, I'm not about to start singing or sharing Madonna's song — the thought had crossed my mind!

No, this (again) is my axe-swinging attempt at our obsession — and it's been going on a long time — with stuff. And sadly, as Vance Packard wrote about 60 years ago, stuff that's not meant to last more than a nanosecond. I mean, god forbid, who wants to build stuff that might last half-a-lifetime, let alone is capable of being repaired, refurbished or recycled?

I know, it's a pretty flabby target but then again, if it's not too crass, I might suggest that as well as the 10 Commandments — if you believe in them or your equivalent thereof — we might tack a few more on the end, and then live them. 

Here goes:

1. Make stuff that lasts a very long time — 100 years, perhaps.
2. Scrap all personal debt, and then do away with any form of credit.
3. Make no more stuff beyond that which is essential for the preservation of life — e.g. medical supplies.
4. Recycle and/or reuse everything that remains.
5. Stop all advertising across all form of media.

Yep, all pie in the bloody sky and silly at best, but when so much of our life is dedicated to consuming, it really is no wonder that we're so far up to our neck in environmental and economic disaster. Oh sure, some people, a very select few, are getting richer by the second, but for the rest of us, I seriously wonder (no, I don't lay awake thinking about it but I am troubled aloud) why we can't see it? If we can, then we're miles off changing our habits. If we need an example of the way the world might look, then you only have to cast your mind back to late February/early March 2020 to appreciate how quickly nature recovered and, speaking personally, my soul was nourished in a way that I'd never experienced during my adult, consuming life.

Right about this time, my negative, whiny voice is whispering in my ear, why am I bothering you, dear readers, with my existential or environmental angst? Better still, who really gives a sh*t about my thinking on this subject or anything else? 

Don't answer that...!

Then again, I think we all know (and I generalise massively) that there's a serious question that's still not getting discussed whether it's around the meal table or the C-suite; namely, is this life and lifestyle sustainable?

And the answer, surely, has to be a big fat NO. 

N bloody O.

Trouble is, and I'm not in the clear any more than you, my/our lifestyle is nearly always dependent on a business that makes stuff which cannot be classed as remotely green, less still generative of the earth. What business can? Oh, a few, but not many and not nearly enough to make a dent in our rate of eating ourselves alive. (I've got Bukowski in my head at this point reading his poem, "eating the father".)

Never mind, I mean I'll be OK, won't I? As for the kids and theirs, well, only time will tell if the earth can continue to withstand our continued assault on its resources. Sadly, I think at some point, sooner rather than later, it will give up the ghost, that or we'll all be fried alive or drowned with the coming climate-change catastrophe. 

Yikes, what a gloomy message to end this little ditty on but it's true, isn't it? If we're not careful or at least a little more prudent (that's an understatement if ever I heard one...), our once pristine planet will bite back in a way where it will be saying: 

"See, I told you so. You can't have your cake and eat it."

Have fun campers.

Blessings, Ju


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