Viewpoint: Living in a ‘material world’

I’m afraid when I think about the planet becoming so warm that we can no longer live on it. This is an intolerable feeling.

I feel this especially when I look at children and wonder if there will be a world they can inhabit. I feel the same way when asteroids threaten to hit us. We can do something about the former.

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In Canada we have become used to having a very high standard of life. We have so many possessions. We are consumers. We live in a “material world.”

I feel concerned that some of us feel so entitled. We think we deserve so much when most people have so very little. It is a dilemma but one that has real solutions.

I think, too, of the Canadian corporations that mine gold, diamonds and other valuables, cut lumber, destroy forests for cattle or palm oil in other countries and treat their labourers like slaves. How do they justify this?

We need to think about where our possessions come from, how they are made and how those who make them are treated.

We also need to buy less, eat less meat, drive less, share with our neighbours, however much it is difficult to imagine a different world and one that is more focused on community, on sharing, on enjoying simple experiences.

I often wish everyone thought as I do. I wish that others cared about social justice, about caring for plants and animals, about valuing cultures that are different than ours.

I care, but do my actions reflect this? The answer is no. Somewhat perhaps, but certainly not entirely.

A friend wrote that we all care about something, be it our children, our beautiful lakes, our bountiful gardens, our pets, bears and cougars, other wildlife, birds and bees. At the same time we jeopardize what we care for by virtue of our actions.

We have been conditioned to think that amassing a fortune is success; that those who achieve great wealth are somehow better; that those who drive expensive cars are more important.

I confess that I succumb to this craziness as much as any other.Really though, does this so-called successful person contribute to the well-being of our earth?

I need to ask myself this and I need to do better myself. I buy coffee in cups; I buy new clothes; I drive a car; I crave meat and delicious food.   

I imagine myself as a leader, smart enough to know I can surround myself with others who have good answers to important questions and that we can collaborate. I do not like the Trumps of this world, who imagine they are better, that they know more, that they are the chosen ones. We are all the chosen ones, the fortunate ones.

We are chosen to make this world a better place. It is a comfort to me that in Powell River there are so many who choose to do just this.

Cynthia Barnes is a Powell River resident.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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