This I Believe

aaron - concord, North Carolina
Entered on August 1, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

Going Without :: A Search For Our Lost Perspective

For breakfast today I had 12 oz. of fresh fruit juice. For lunch I will have the same. I am in the fifth and final day of a fast. I have had no solid foods, no other liquids except tea and water and I feel fine. For any of you worried about my health you needn’t be. I have researched this practice and performed it many times. I find it to be a tough but rewarding experience physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am doing it in celebration of my family’s one-year anniversary of television-free living. Last year our television stopped working and after a discussion with my wife we decided not to replace it. One year later we’re happy we haven’t.

Before you begin to worry, let me assure you I’m not going to try and convince you to give up eating or to condemn you for watching American Idol. I would however like to interject an idea into the growing critique of our way of life and its future.

I believe in our hasty, valiant effort to change some of the more ecologically destructive behaviors of our unsustainable consumer culture we’ve missed a step. We have not stopped to consider the excess of our present existence. We have become accustom to an ever-increasing availability of food, entertainment, travel and more; always more. This has become ingrained in us so much so that currently our argument is often over how to produce more fuel for our cars not about how to make less driving necessary. The discussion is frequently about how to produce more electricity without emissions not about how much power we really need. The conversation is commonly about technologies that will allow us to do more while hurting less not about how much we really require in the first place.

I think technology can play a part in adjusting our lifestyles such that we may begin to do less harm to our environment and use fewer of our children’s resources. I do not believe, however, in the endless growth of consumption. I am asking how much is enough?

Our thirst for more, better and faster seems to have reached a fever pitch. In the midst of this whirlwind we have lost touch with just how precious our position is. Our ever increasing desire has removed the perspective of our situation. We have more of everything than any other population on the Earth at anytime- ever! And the end result is that it’s hard to hear myself speak above the bombs. The sound of our way of life is deafening. Isn’t anyone else ready for some peace and quiet?

When you only eat strawberries in the summer their specialness returns. You also learn how to once again eat seasonally. When you turn off the television even for a week or so, not only do you appreciate it more but you recognize the importance of time spent doing and learning other things.

I believe as we examine the way we live our lives more sustainably we have at our disposal an exercise that provides a more proper perspective on our affluent era. By purposefully going without we can again understand just how good we’ve got it. We can return the extraordinary to that which has become commonplace and we can learn a lot about what we need, what we want and just what really is important to us. Going without might not be the only way to understand how much we have and how great those items are but I believe it can renew our lost perspective on how to live our lives and what we truly value.