by Lisa Kartos
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It is so disheartening to be a part of such a wasteful society. We seem to see the accumulation of things as something of a status symbol. The bigger the house, the more we seem to respect somebody. The more expensive the huge metallic art pieces around the house, the more we notice the so-called success of the owner.
We have so much extra, we have to bring in extra shelving, extra freezers for storage, another armoire; we go so far as to actually build add-ons to our houses. Instead of recognizing that we are running out of space in our more-than-sufficiently-sized houses, we actually decide to add more square footage so we can fill that up with junk, too! Just think of what we could do for others with all of those ridiculously-sized houses. In Colombia, a family of three easily shares a meager dirt home equivalent to a thirteen-year-old's bedroom and attached bathroom.
What is really sad, is to see little kids understand the difference between having extra things and not having extra things. I remember an instance when I babysat for a very well-off family. I was out running an errand with the kids and had to stop by my parents' house for something; the middle child, about age seven at the time, told me my house was small. Now, my parents live in a beautiful two-story house, four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, big yard...you get the idea, a house anybody should be so blessed to have. And my parents worked hard for that house. And this little seven-year-old already knew our society values her over-the-top mansion she lives in, over my parents' colonial.
Drew and I live in a studio downtown, with a set of garbage dumpsters in the alley next to our place. Of course there are a couple of bars and restaurants around us, so, when we walk our dog out in the morning, we get to survey the damages of the wastefulness from the day and night before. Not mentioning the filth of the alleyway, it is full of trashed food and other that people consider to be garbage. Bags of 60 or 70 bread rolls, mexican food, half-eaten pizzas or salads...obviously garbage, right?!
Or look around you the next time you are eating out, see how many plates have food left on them when they are taken away. As we sit, bellies expanding, with an over-satisfied burp, being served. Or we send back a completely untouched plate because the chef didn't get your order just right. Again, think of how many we could help with only the leftovers. The word, leftovers, would've been a shock to people years ago, or to those living across the country. And yet, we have tupperwares full in our fridge that get tossed after a few days.
Or think of the idea of a mall. Our malls here in the U.S. pride themselves on their size; how much useless junk is piled up inside of these malls. And yet we flock to them, positive we need what they sell inside. Walking right into our own trap. Smiling and snapping pictures on the way in. A specialized store for everything. The funny thing is, many times, we walk in not really looking for anything in particular. Just to shop. In this case, we are just begging to waste money (and time) on something we obviously don't need. I love when the sales associate approaches and asks "looking for anything in particular today?", indicating that many times, if not most, they and we are aware that we just come to browse, looking for anything to buy.
In theory, we could get by without the vast majority of what we own. We could, logistically speaking, have one shirt and one pair of pants, and wash them out at the end of each day, ready to wear the next morning. We could get along without all our fancy appliances, the special pan that pre-cuts brownies for you... Preservation of food and goods seemed so smart at the time, but, really, it only opened the door to us overbuying and eventually wasting. Or a block of fifteen cutting knives, you get the idea. Fifteen, thirty, or more pairs of shoes.
We all have too much, myself included. We have all fallen into this disgusting trap, and we need Strength to stop consuming as a culture. Consume, what an ugly word. Never satisfied with the gifts God has given us...always "need"ing more.
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