UTNE Reader Project December 1998

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UTNE Reader Project December 1998

-- Anonymous, March 06, 1999


The Stuff of Life by Scott Russell Sanders, Utne Reader, December 1998, pp. 47-51. How Far Will We Go

Most people have been involved in some type of growth process at some time in their lives. Personal growth is something thats usually instilled in us as we mature and grow older. Unfortunately, in this day and age we have taken that process to greater heights. It seems that many people equate the term growth with a lot more than just personal assessment which has contributed to some of the problems with our environment. How many people stop to think of the damage our gains will have on earth and how this could affect our future? Many ecologists and their advocates have tried their best to educate us through various media, but for the most part, their efforts seem futile. Their reports indicate that few people really take this seriously or even give it a second thought.

Scott Russell Sanders article The Stuff of Life is concerned with our present, and future, quality of life and what this means to the vast majority of our world population. He refers mainly to those who are more concerned with the quantity, rather than the quality, of the items they collect, and how the importance of this problem just isnt getting much precedence at this time. Even though the warnings environmentalists and scientists have presented us regarding our dwindling resources has prompted some people into making an effort to change their lifestyles, we still have a long way to go.

As I got older, I was encouraged, as I would hope most people were, to strive for personal growth. This included spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, as well as materialistic growth. Unfortunately, its the material growth people have been experiencing that has been causing most of our environmental problems. In a society with coined phrases such as shop till you drop and keeping up with the Joneses prompting us, we have triggered pollution to an all time high, used up our natural resources, and driven animals into extinction. It appears all people are concerned with, at times, is acquiring the newest or latest style of a product, completely oblivious to its practicality. Its as if we are trying to accumulate a treasure chest (or warehouse) of stuff. Often bought on compulsion, it seems we are trying to buy happiness or acquire what we feel we are lacking in our lives. Unfortunately, some people are never satisfied no matter what they acquire.

Sanders believes that the only chance we have of preserving our planet, and future lives, is by using some restraint. He thinks we need to get rid of overindulgence, greed, and neglect and he suggests we find a simpler, safer, and more fulfilling way to satisfy ourselves. I agree that if we learn how to control ourselves, and say enough is enough, things will change for the better. I feel that if people spent more time developing their minds and demeanor it might satisfy their hunger for unneeded clutter and get the focus back on the simpler, but finer, things of life. Things like enjoying nature, companionship, music, and developing a sense of pride and accomplishment. We need to slow down, downsize on our homes and personal possessions, and cut back on things we consume if we truly want to make a difference.

A colleague and I were discussing how discouraging it is to think of all the wasted money schools have paid out on trendy programs that end up getting lost in bureaucracy. Many of these programs start out great in theory, but after a certain period of time, they seem to fall by the wayside. One example is Outcome Based Education (OBE), which was a program based on the rationale that students would be able to have as much time as necessary to master a subject. Not too long after the program was introduced, its practicality became an issue, and that was the end of that. Another example is the grad standards which, with the continual changes, keep most teachers in total confusion about whats going on. With so many school districts that really need money, we just feel there could be better ways to use funds and promote education.

Spending time improving the current condition of our planet, as well as our lives, has got to be the most important priority for mankind if we really want change to occur. We need to start appreciating the things we take for granted. Things like hunting, fishing, camping, or just taking a walk and enjoying the beauty of nature. If we want our children to appreciate and enjoy this planet, wed better heed the warnings now and try to become more environmentally conscious. I know its hard to give up the things we have come to equate with wealth and status, but theres no time like the present to start being more selective in our acquisitions and put our children, our land, and our future first.

-- Anonymous, March 06, 1999

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