Friday, November 7, 2008

Sacrifice? Does anyone do it anymore? Not around here.

With all the headlines spouting financial ruin, I decided to observe how people were sacrificing and what they were doing to tighten their belts to protect themselves. It was Wednesday night, the night before the garbage man comes to pick up all the garbage in this suburb.

I walked around the neighborhood, nodding hello (no one really speaks to each other around here, it's just a nod and maybe a slight smile, but usually the nod is the extent of the acknowledgement). Every house had at least one huge garbage can in front of it, some had multiples. We recycle around here, so this was true garbage, no paper or cans.

OK, now you think I'm nuts, but this was a pseudo-scientific study I was doing. One of the neighbors has a dog that gets loose on occasion, usually on garbage night (must be the yummy smells emanating from the containers), so I was able to look at some of the garbage as I walked by.

I saw some perfectly good food stuffs in that debris (no, I didn't take it...I'm not that cheap) as well as some other things I consider "specialty" food stuffs I only have during the holidays (OK, so maybe I am cheap....). The point is, in that can of garbage were the remains of non-essential foods and junk. No sacrifice in that household. At least none evident in their garbage.

The farther I walked, I thought about sacrifice and what it meant to me, in comparison to other people. I've lived the majority of my life in this great country and learned, culturally, what it means to live in this country. We all love this country and some of us think that folks living outside of this great country are envious of our lot in life. I don't think so.

I see this United States as a country of great potential, not only because of our resources and wealth (which may not be as great as it was a few months ago, but I digress..) but for the human resources and culture, if we choose to accept a few sacrifices.

We need to embrace the concept of: neighbors, family, ecology, environment and frugality, instead of materialism, isolationism and greed. I don't think many of us would disagree with that statement. The difficulty, as I see it is, we have to be happy with less. You know the old idea of "Less is more"? We have too much stuff, and the stuff needs stuff to survive. The damned stuff has a life of its own and we're all too stupid, or too entrenched in our quest for "more, more, more" to realize what's happened here. We don't know what sacrifice is. I know what you're thinking, "Isn't it great that we don't know what sacrifice is? That means we have more than we need and have had it that way all our lives".

I used to think it was great to have everything and anything at my finger tips, but it doesn't give me much pride to know that I have so much and so many others in this world have little. What really ticks me off is, I think they're happier than so many of the folks that live here. Wealth and stuff doesn't bring happiness, that's for sure.

The price of gas has caused a reduction in the use of our cars. I see buses traveling the roads with more frequency. The buses have LED signs that light up as they pass by saying, "take the bus-save gas". People are taking the bus more frequently, I see them at the bus stop (who even knew there was a bus stop on my street? I didn't, and I've lived here for 40+ years) as I drive to work. If there was a bus to my work, I think I'd be on it.

I've made a commitment to myself. I'm going to cut back on spending, eating and waste. I'm going to attempt to de-clutter my environment and maybe, just maybe, if I have less stuff I will understand the concept of "Less is More", because I need to understand that, and I'm betting anyone reading this needs to understand that as well.

Willing to give it a try? I don't think it'll be tough...