Tuesday, December 27, 2005

what did you get for christmas?

The quantity and quality of the Christmas gifts I received this year illustrate just how blessed my family really is. I’m not sure I could write down all the presents I received without getting up from the computer and making a list out in the living room where this year’s offerings are waiting to be put away. One in particular stands out. I received the gift from a co-worker at our annual Christmas party. She gave me a card and wrote in it to …"remember these two things: think globally and act locally". There were two gifts attached. The first was labeled, Think Globally. It was an announcement that she had purchased baby chicks through Heifer International. For almost 60 years this organization has offered a way for individuals to purchase a source of food for a family in need. My gift was a flock of chickens given to a poor family to raise as a source of eggs and more chickens to sell and share with others in need. The second gift was labeled, Act Locally. It was a gift certificate to Heirloom Seeds. For the past three years I’ve been growing more and more of my own food on our ¼ acre lot. My co-worker knows this and was kind enough to give me the power to continue to provide for myself and my family in this way. I actually only received a card and a few slips of paper. The power of her gift though is profound. I am helping a feed a family in need and my family as well. No trinkets, no knick-knacks, no gadgets, just the power to take care of myself and others by feeding them.

I believe that over the next few years it will become evident that George Monbiot is right when he says we, are the most fortunate generations that have ever lived. Ours are the most fortunate generations that ever will. As our incredible sources of energy embodied in fossil fuels reach a maximum rate of extraction, I think we will have to begin again to do with less. I do not think this reduction will be unwelcome by many. I think many Americans have begun to ask themselves, “How much is enough?” Just how big a house do I really need? 2,000 square feet? 4,000 square feet? 10,000? How much food can I eat? How many showers can I take? How big does my vehicle really need to be? My television? My dinning room table? When will I purchase enough to be happy? And I would argue that many Americans are beginning to understand the words I first learn from a plaque on my Grandmother’s wall. It read, Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of what you already have. It may prove that the greatest gift she ever gave me was an understanding of the great power that I have within me and you have within you. We are all capable of taking care of ourselves and those around us. We do not need more “things” to make us happy, just the utilization of what we already have.

George Monbiot went on to say, And we find ourselves in an extraordinary position. This is the first mass political movement to demand less, not more. The first to take to the streets in pursuit of austerity. The first to demand that our luxuries, even our comforts, are curtailed.”
We cannot call on others to stop flying if we still fly. We cannot ask the government to force us to change if we are not ready to change. The greatest fight of our lives will be fought not just out there, but also in here.

Over the next few months I’m going to discuss in more detail the actions we can all take in order to provide for ourselves what we have until recently relied upon others to provide. I also plan to sprinkle in more links to the writings of others on topics I think important. All this against the backdrop of an understanding that maybe less, not more, means better. Please be apart of the discussion. Feel free to request that I research certain topics concerning personal freedom through rejection of the bonds of materialism and greed or maybe just a better way of gardening. Please forward links you think I might be interested in. Thanks as always for listening.

Check out George Monbiot and his article in its entirety.

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