For a moment in time, there was one question that was all the rage across the land, “Would you like paper or plastic?” Although preceded by Smokey the Bear and the weeping Native American, this question was even more entrenched in the cultural consciousness. Surely, there have always been environmentalist. (This would be an appropriate time for me to admit my love of Thoreau which I am sure, at this point, comes as no shock to you. ) As it turns out, it was a moot point. While plastic bags never die, the trees that make paper bags do. The real option is bringing your reusable carrying device to cart your purchases and to run screaming from the disposable offerings whatever they are. But, that is not convenient. We have become a culture that experiences convenience as an entitlement.
We have been moving to this point at an ever increasing rate since the industrial revolution. The more attached we become to disposability the more we ensure the destruction of the natural world. It is the ultimate choice between what is right and what is easy.
It is easy to ignore the respective “canaries in the coal mine. ” It has been suggested that the hole in the ozone is a natural phenomenon completely unrelated to human activity. It has been suggested that the hole in the ozone will not cause global warming. Even now, after the worst hurricane season for North America on record, there are those who suggest that our reckless abuse of natural resources is unrelated to the significant change in our weather. This is folly. This is the moment of decision, not only for the United States but for the world. We must decide whether we are going to do what is easy and stay the current course, leaving the heavy costs of our behavior to the future or make the difficult choice to mitigate the damage already done by changing our behavior now.
In short, (I know it’s a little late for that) if we each became our own personal heroes and if we become more practiced at choosing the more difficult “right” choices inspite of the easier more comfortable alternatives; there will be more heroes available to band together when the larger issues present themselves. The tragedies of the past would be issues of the past and not harbingers of the future.
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