After reading the exerts from “A Reasonable Life” by Ferenc Mate, I was thinking about the point he makes about people in our society today always wanting more and very infrequently being happy with what we have. I think that this is a very strong point and I think that this is one of the reasons we have come to face the environmental crisis we are facing today. For example we work for years to save up to buy our first house then when we get it and we make improvements and then we might decide we need something we consider better so we buy a bigger and better house and then when we get older the house is too big so we might sell it and buy a smaller house. We go through the same cycle with almost everything we buy. Most of the time we strive for a newer car, or a better cell phone, a bigger TV, newer furniture, the latest fashions, or a faster computer. Never are we truly satisfied with what we have, we continually want more.
This time of year is one of the best examples of this. We buy gifts for people that we hope they like but rarely are they gifts that they truly need. A few Christmases ago my brother got me socks, a more boring unexciting gift I could not think of, however, I used those socks all the time unlike most other gifts I received. We as a society have this idea that new shiny gifts are better, yet these are just contributing to the environmental problems we are facing today. Each year my parents give me gifts that I rarely use, some of these gifts I actually asked for. I have a guitar that sits in the case, clothes that fill my closets, books that overflow the bookshelf. All of these I wanted and I like, but I do not need them and in reality I rarely use them. It is sad to think about how much is wasted because we always feel we need newer and “better” things. One example is when the iPod first came out I got one and I loved it and used it all the time. When the newer smaller one came out I needed that one because it was smaller and easier to carry while I was running. So I got one and replaced my old one, never mind that it worked just fine. The same goes for almost everything I use and I’m sure many people can relate because most of the time the newer models always seem a little better than the previous.
I am unconvinced that this cycle is completely our fault, mostly but not totally. The media and society plays an important role. We always see advertisements telling us that in fact this product is better and suggesting that we run out and buy it. As a society we tend to admire and respect people who have the things that we strive for. Which in a way makes us strive for them more so we can be the people being admired and respected, but this is just a circle because most of the time when we gain these things something newer is already in style and then the cycle continues indefinitely. This is a cycle that needs to be stopped. One way to do this I think is to look to our grandparents for an example. My grandfather never throws anything out. He uses tools that he has had his whole life. Every spring he fixes his ancient lawnmower. Most of his clothes are older than I am. Before I used to kind of get annoyed and my dad still does when he refused to buy a new tool that we assured him would make his life easier, and my dad was furious when he bought him a new lawnmower that he told my dad to take back because his still worked just fine. Now however I think there is a whole lot of wisdom behind this, and besides my grandfather is the happiest person I know and he truly doesn’t need anything.