Monday, May 26, 2008

Living More with Less Read Along - Do Justice


"Justice" by Pierre Subleyras

I've just returned from our area's huge, annual homeschool convention and I had a great time! I have some thoughts to share in regard to my weekend, but, as promised, I want to continue with our read-along and share some thoughts regarding the next section of the book, titled, "Do Justice."

In this section, I thought Longacre’s section on “Not Guilty” was right on with so many things.

Personally, as a vegan (and I won’t go on about this, because I know that it not the focus of our discussion), I can’t help but think about the factory farm situations in relation to this. She writes, “Statements like, ‘This meeting, or this book, or that person, or the poor of the world make me feel guilty’ bear careful scrutiny. From where comes the guilt? From those who are poor? That’s blaming the victim. From those who shared the information? Or from us who live the way we do?”

And, “This means being mindful, conscious, aware, so that never again can one make a decision about buying and using without thinking of the poor.”

I think about the poor and the hungry and I think about the animals.

Some other thoughts I had:

A couple of weeks ago we were in Target to get a pair of swim goggles for my daughter. I looked around at the bright, shiny, “happy” atmosphere and wished, in a way, that I could just enjoy it. It’s kind of like I wish I could just get sucked away into the fake picture of “Everything and everyone is okay in the world.” Somehow it all seems like it there. That’s some powerful marketing, eh? :) At the same time, I looked at all the stuff and just thought about how they just keep pumping it out week after week, year after year. sigh You don’t want to be me and go shopping! lol!

It's a bit of a challenge for me:finding the balance. I don't want to be the "wet blanket" ruining everyone's fun, so a lot of the time I don't say what is in my heart about a matter. Occasionally I do though. It's hard, because so much of what Americans find as "fun" includes buying things we don't need or living in a disposable, wasteful way. As an example, one of the workshop speakers at the conference was talking about her product (some of the speakers are vendors at the convention): a Spanish language program for elementary aged children. She was pointing out how "green" her company is and how much more green it is becoming and told us that her new CD packaging wasn't going to be in a jewel case any longer, but in recycled paper packaging printed with soy-based ink. And that is really great. BUT at the same moment she was saying this, she was cracking open a bottle of water from a plastic, disposable bottle. I just can't help it; I notice those things. So, on the one hand, kudos to her for choosing a more green path for her company... and yes, we all are taking baby steps toward this new way of environmental living that we really, really need to take. But given that green is a new trend in everything - including and especially marketing - I can't help being a wee bit suspicious. Still, I don't want to be the one to rain on the green parade... and I really hope it continues, but I just hope that people will look at all aspects of their lives and make changes for the better of the earth - not just the ones that are going to look good and increase sales, KWIM?

So, another thing that I find so amazing about Longacre, was her almost prophetic voice. While she focuses on the world’s poor in the book, the simple living actions she speaks of are the same ones we speak of when we speak of global warming/climate change. It always surprises me when some do not put the two together, as if the climate crisis does not affect people - and the most disadvantaged people first.

Do you belong to any organizations that work for the changes you want to see in the world? I belong to the Sierra Club and PETA, because, though I realize they do not work for people “specifically,” I believe the impact of these organizations is one that affects people in a broad way. Sierra, obviously for things like clean air and clean drinking water - which, incidentally, I believe, is going to become a hugely fought over resource in the years to come. And PETA, because not only do they speak out against inhumane treatment of animals, but also because I believe that a vegetarian diet is a link in the chain of dealing with world hunger. Much land that could be used for crops becomes land that is grown for crops to feed animals for the animal based-diet so prevalent in the West, instead of crops grown to feed people. The current rice shortage, I believe, is one example of this problem.

A whole foods, vegetarian diet also addresses issues of clean water, overuse of antibiotics, wetland and wildlife habitat conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, and chronic diseases affecting millions of people each year including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and more.

So, given my limited financial resources, I try to choose the groups that I feel give the most attention to the areas of justice that I care about, that reach the most people and give the most impact for my dollar.

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