Sunday, March 01, 2009

"You don't know what you've got till it's gone..."

As I was going about getting the stuff done I needed to do this weekend, I realized something. One of my major sources of frustration. I feel like a oddity by trying to be green - or at least greener. That doesn't make me weird! I started thinking about the ways I feel different....especially in the affluent area I live in. A lot of these things in and of themselves aren't even rare - or odd. A lot are even kind of trendy right now. But taken together? Once upon a time I had a group of friends that got this. Life has a way of mixing things up though, and after most of the group moved out of the area I started to feel like a fish out of water.

Yes, I eat sushi. And hummus. And greens. And black beans and rice. So? I listen to folk music, I like chants and Celtic music too. I try to watch the gas I use and carpool when I can. I like to read non-fiction, theology, things that make me think. I try to be as earth friendly as I can in my yard and in my garden. I’m thinking about joining an organic, local food co-op. I try to use green products when I clean my house. I have a front loader washing machine. I don’t run the AC unless it’s over 90 degrees. I keep the thermostat set at 68 during the day in the winter and 58 at night. I use compact fluorescent light bulbs. I buy used books if I can. I have a library card. I recycle. I try to be frugal and healthy in what my family eats – and as conscious of food ethics as I know to be, and as budget will allow. I think if I had kids today I would breast feed and use cloth diapers…. I like Whole Foods and Trader Joes. And small coffee shops and mom and pop stores. I like farmer's markets. I wear things until they wear out. I drive my car until it won’t run. I love my Birkenstocks. I love garage sales and resale shops. I like small organic gatherings, especially in the Christian community. I think we should be the church instead of going to church.

Unfortunately – I don’t have these things in common with many of my friends. I feel like a oddball in a world of excess…. Sadly, even in the Christian community these things are odd and prompt funny looks. At least in the area where I live. I'm tired of the rat race of materialism - just to say we have the latest, greatest, and best. Even at church. I'm tired of being looked at askance because I'm not keeping up with the Joneses. I miss my friends that think this way too. My church that understood this. It’s hard to be different – but this stuff is really a part of me and who I am. It’s part of being responsible and caring for the earth and each other. I’m frustrated that there is no one to talk to about the things that matter to me.

I remember my trip to Haiti last summer. How the people there have nothing. Not even a roof over their heads in a lot of cases. They walk, barefoot, to get clean water. They wear remade clothing. They don't have movies, or cars, or tv or an unlimited variety of food - they often don't even have food. And yet they seem to be able to find happiness in this life.

I live in a country of great excess. I don't understand how people don't get this. How they keep living just the way they always have, oblivious to the plight of the earth and her people. When I run the water in my kitchen now I think of what water means in Haiti. We need to quit abusing our resources and learn to share the abundance that we have. Not only in a literal way, but also by gently caring for the earth and allowing her good to be shared by all as well as preserving resources for future generations.

I am not a tree hugger. I try to be fair in my views of ecology, the environment, and what we as humans truly need. Balanced. I would not sit in a tree to preserve an owl. But I would try to educate people on the plight of the owls.... I will continue to learn about where my clothing comes from, where my chocolate, and coffee come from, and at what price. And I will tell others.

Just stop looking at me like I have two heads.

I miss my friends......

1 comment:

ness said...

mmmmm....they paved paradise and put up a parking lot...

I feel ya. For me it is a lot easier because I'm not nearly as green/hippie as a lot of people in our community, but then when I'm just one town north of that...well I feel like the grungy country cousin.

Still...you are doing it for a reason and the more you do it and talk about it and why you are doing it...people will catch on.

if not, hand them a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.