Sunday, 27 January 2013

If We Could

I wonder, if we could view the entire stretch of humanity's future from a god's-eye view, all tens of thousands of human generations that might exist after we do, see them all - looking out across the long stretch of what is to come, seeing the people whose ancestors we will be - what we would do differently today.  If those people appeared real to us, as people who will suffer just as we do, die of hunger and exposure and illness as we do, would we try to allocate what we have more conservatively amongst ourselves so that the children of our children's children's children will have some of the basic comforts we have (and have created)?

When I picture our future in this way it seems so selfish, intensely shortsighted and cruel to waste oil and energy for keeping vinyl yard Santas inflated, to make novelty keychains and disposable diapers, to travel about in our cars so pettily and to maintain our giant homes.  It seems obvious that to be truly kind we would think of those people now and we would sacrifice for them.

But there are people alive now who are suffering their way through this, their only life.  They live now.  They feel pain now.  And still I sit and type on this computer that I don't truly need in the three bedroom house that just two of us live in, and tomorrow I will let a contractor come and install new kitchen flooring because the stuff that's there now is "outdated," and last week I had a new sink installed in the bathroom, though the water still ran freshly from the old sink's pipes.  I do these things even though I know that there are mothers crouching beside train tracks in Bangladesh, shelterless, cooking over open fires, and people in my own nation bankrupt for paying for chemo or a lung transplant, and people feeding their kids Lays and Pepsi for breakfast because it's what's affordable.  And still somehow I think it reasonable to consider myself to be empathetic and socially conscious and sensitive to excessive consumerism.

I wish that it were easier, for myself and all of us, to fully live the dreams of compassion that I have for myself, and for all of us.

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