This I Believe

Karen - Pelham, Massachusetts
Entered on June 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in quality and I believe in equality.

The older I get (and I feel like a very old 37) the more I appreciate things like well tailored clothing, aged cheese, and dark chocolate. I’m paying more attention to where the items I buy come from, and am learning to appreciate just how wide the ripple effect of my purchasing decisions is.

I think buying a hand-made sweater is not just about obtaining something of quality and character, but about appreciating the skill and generous spirit of the person who created it. Buying a round of carefully crafted and aged cheese isn’t about simply refining one’s taste buds; I think it’s about supporting livestock and a livelihood that has been carefully tended to—perhaps for many generations. And buying delicious dark chocolate is not just a fabulous indulgence; for me it is about being responsible and understanding how chocolate (and coffee too) should be fair trade organic because another chocolate purchase could be supporting slave traders of children in the Ivory Coast.

The older I get the more slowly I must make decisions because I see how my choices impact many others with whom I share this planet. Sometimes this feels overwhelming and I become either completely unable to purchase anything or I succumb to the epidemic numbness and go shopping for something trendy.

I can easily walk down the supermarket aisles growing increasingly agitated about what I am bringing home to feed my family. If we are what we eat, then why do we crave junk food? The questions rage in my mind—is this genetically modified? What exactly is smart chicken? How is it that these fruits and vegetables I’ve seen at Disney World growing on a man-made glass-encased beach need no soil to grow? Is this milk nothing more than ultra-boiled sour scum scraped from the floor of a processing plant?

But I can also find great satisfaction shopping. Like when I set out to buy a unique birthday present and come across a hand-crafted toy at Ten Thousand Villages. Or I could consciously purchase new bamboo flooring because I understand this wood product to be plentiful and buying it wouldn’t lead to deforestation.

And then there are times when I smile to myself and know that there are many other people courageously attending to their worries and dreams for our collective futures. I believe people are good and that we all deserve good quality things and good quality feelings.

Appreciating things of quality—especially that which exists deep within every heart—helps me begin to understand equality. I believe quality is all around me and that I must simply open my eyes to it every day.

In a perfect world, I believe we would all strive to make decisions of the highest quality. This would naturally extend to our fellow “planetarians” and then perhaps it wouldn’t be so overwhelming to see just how wide the web that connects us all together really is.