Monday, May 9, 2011

Playing the blame game

This e-mail came across my desk today.  And following it is the reply I sent back.

Friends and relatives here is something to think about:
In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the
green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, they returned their milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So
they really were recycled.
But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two
But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby's nappies because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right; they didn't have the green thing back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of a small country. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred
by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that
operate on electricity.
But she's right; they didn't have the green thing back then.
They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the
razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took a tram or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank
of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

In response: In some ways things need to go back to the way they used to be - "back then" was greener (in some ways) - not consciously, just out of necessity. But the problem is not with what people did 50 or 60 or even 40 years ago. The problem is with what we are doing today and with the disposable attitude we have today. (I would add that the other problem is there are twice as many people on the planet now than there were 50 years ago - that has a HUGE impact).
There isn't one generation that is better than another - there are just as many non-environmental young people as old. Something is wrong with our culture. We don't see the effects our actions have until it is too late. We need to start being forward thinkers. And we need to stop using plastics - a material that will last forever - for items that are used only once or twice. We need to save that magical material for things intended to last much, much longer.
Whoever wrote this was obviously pissed off because the younger generation is "blaming" them for the situation we are in now. And, in a way, it's true. We've gotten here because of the actions of people in the past - but that's true of any time - from the glory days of the industrial revolution to the dark ages - they got where they were because of what the people who came before them did ... that's how it works!  Can't be done any other way.  The older generation certainly isn't more environmentally minded than the younger now - nor less. We're all responsible for our actions today.
There is no blame to be laid. We are where we are. Now we can only blame ourselves if we don't do something about it.   And if we don't do anything about it, our kids will be suffering because of us.
By the way, that old lady should remember a time when everyone took bags or baskets to the store. It wasn't that long ago.

It pisses me off that people feel blamed or feel the need to blame.  Let's just take it from here, shall we?

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