after effects

I wonder, in my thoughts and when I am out some where without a specific purpose in mind. The latter doesn’t happen all that often given the busy life we have, but when I do get the opportunity it is quiet amazing how the mind leaps with joy at the opportunity to not have structure and to both consume the environment around me in sights, sounds and smells and sometimes get new thoughts and ideas triggered as a result.

I think about my occasional (read one a month at most) walk around the downtown of our city. The occasional person will be found that is not well kept and looks to currently be under the influence. It would appears that years of substance abuse of some kind may have put them on the street in this condition, judging by the wear and tear on their body, but one could never know without talking to them I suppose. I have to wonder though, if we could go back many months or years and find them at a place where they had not yet let a destructive lifestyle take over and witness that first taste of the escape they would find, or the nirvana they would experience and ask them if they forsee this leading to a future filled with hardship, pain, isolation, untimely death or any other number of side effets. I somehow assume that they would feel in control of the moment, or claim to.

Humanity is really good at taking the pleasure or the gain of the day and gambling with the future. Whether it is our use of the environment that we see around the world with a slow/no recovery or our “better living through chemistry” and science that has led to us finding out the limitations to the human body. In my environmental health classes in university I frequently found myself depressed as I thought about the content we were covering. Simple facts such as exposure to something we perceived as minor could lead to cancers years later. Not knowing whether you or your children have a genetic makeup that makes you suceptible to electromagnetic fields (EMF) that can lead to cancers such as lukemia is kind of a frightening thought. Of course we live in a different world as well where we affect those risks and ask our government to watch over them but what about the things we do understand?

We know where our garbage goes. We know the effort required to extract fossil fuels. We know net benefit of spending hours watching TV or playing video games. We know the impact of consumption in goods, drinks and drugs.

Are we living in the now, just a little too much? I struggle with this issue. As I have experienced the great joy, laughter and love from my wife and kids I have come to make compromises to further create opportunities for us to have exciting times together. I take my family on a lot of vacations and feel good about the hard work required to earn the money required to do so. I have expanded our vehicle and other equipment to get places and do things we couldn’t do before and I while I am aware that it is causing more impact to the environment than before doing nothing I try to balance the impact with my other actions rather than deny myself those new opportunities. There is no question, I take the bus, avoid driving and make environmental purchases taking into consideration the impacts of driving a truck and a boat each summer. Do I think that if everyone acted like me that the planet would be ok, no, I am smarter than that. Do I think that I deserve this opportunity and some other person should not have the same opportunity?

Sometimes when my thoughts are wondering I think about the awesome life I have. That reflection has resuled in charitable donations, reductions in bad consumptive behaviour and smarter purchases but it has not resulted in my adapting to a way of living simpler that could be considered leading in any way. The other day when I was wandering around on my way back from the public library and witnessed the rough street person my thoughts wandered back to this place in my mind where I consider what I have done and continue to do. Have I considered the after effects of my actions?

What will my legacy be?

One Comment

  1. Ann says:

    This is a challenge. Recently the non-profit organization that I work for was hosting the AGM for a provincial organization with 45 members and potentially 100 attendees. The organizating committee decided to make it a green event. Some of the efforts to do this were:
    1. Hold the full day of activities in one room, ie the cafeteria in the local campus of the NS Community College.
    2. Use "real"dishes and utensils. Washing using less energy then recyling and land fill.
    3. Purchase coffee mugs and juice glasses to use during the day and 'give' each attendee the item to take home with them. This was done through a sponsorship from a local business.
    4. Present a program on 'green'topics to raise awareness. This was very successful and consequently the provincial representatives are now implementing some of the ideas at their monthly meetings.

    Small steps…

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