Too Good To Be True?

Last night the girls and I popped in the Disney movie Pocahontas, cut up some fruit to have for a snack and cuddled up together for a perfectly relaxing evening.

I love the story of Pocahontas and John Smith, how they stand for what they believe in and don’t allow what other people believe to change their love for each other. At the end of the movie when Pocahontas is going after a captive John Smith and the big war is about to take place, she says, “I don’t know what I can do, still I know I’ve got to try.” I thought to myself, I love that! Then she throws herself on top of him and declares, “If you want to kill him you’ll have to kill me first.” Disney movies used to be so awesome and actually teach valuable lessons to children. I also wondered to myself, what happened?

After the movie it was time for the bedtime routine, which includes brushing teeth and hair, getting on jammies, singing and reading stories. Then it was lights out followed by a peaceful nights rest in our warm and cozy home, knowing that tomorrow we will wake up to another beautiful day full of blessings.

Wait a minute! That almost sounds to good to be true. Well, that is probably because it is.

I once read a quote wherein the person asks, “Did I live a good life, or one off the backs of future generations?” I ask myself that question frequently, not only about the future generations, but of the people behind the scenes that we are living off today.

Somebody is deadening their natural compassion, working in a slaughterhouse for us. Somebody is breaking their back working in a rice field for us. Somebody is driving or flying our produce from halfway around the world, causing much pollution to get it to us. Somebody is sewing together our designer jeans for 50 cents a day. Somebody is left without fresh water in their country, so we can have ours. Somebody is being killed, so that we can drive our cars to work, soccer practice, the grocery store or to rent a movie. In more ways then we could (or even would like to) imagine we are living our convenient and comfortable lives at the expense of and certainly off the backs of others.

I made the connection with meat-eating and convenience over a year ago. I knew that the meat that I was eating, had come from an animal and that animal had to die for my momentary sensory pleasure. I realized that was something I didn’t want to be apart of. After doing more research and switching to a vegan diet a month later, I learned more about how our diets have a profound effect on the planet.

I always strive to be conscious of how my life affects the planet, by buying organic whenever possible and shopping local, rather than at Superstore or other big chain stores. I try not to buy anything new, if I can get it second-hand, which I usually do. That goes for all of our clothes, the kids toys and books and our furniture and dishes etc. I buy Eco-friendly dish and laundry detergent that is refillable and even our toothpaste is organic and fluoride -free. I am an avid recycler and I even pick up trash and recyclables that I see on the side of the road and put them where they belong. I would like to think that I am doing a good job. But, there is still that bunch of bananas on my counter that, even thought they may be organic, came from Guatamala to get to me and the vehicle that we drive to get our organic produce, needs gas to run.

As I closed my eyes last night, hearing the sound of the furnace come on, I had to ask myself, how is it that we have so much? How is it that I was born into this life and have everything so easy? More importantly, why am I bothered? How come I can’t seem to not care about the fact that I know I am living comfortably off of somebody else? I can’t help but feel selfish. I know my kids are safe and sound in their beds, but I also know that so many others are not. So many are dying everyday and as much as I would love to believe that I am not the cause of any of it, I am beginning to realize that I am and we all are. Although it may seem like I do a lot of good already, I know that there is so much more I can do.

I subtitled this blog, living a conscious and compassionate life and having fun along the way. It has always been my desire to live a good life, do the least harm and inspire others to make the same journey. I hoped that my blog would inspire others to see that vegan meals can be easy to create and taste just as good as non-vegan dishes. I wanted to share my love for real life, the sun, the sky and my family and show people that spending time without the noise box on all day is really what means anything. Still I ask myself, in what ways am I missing it?

This morning on our brisk Fall walk, Craig and I got talking about John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman. “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” reveals a game that, according to John Perkins, is “as old as Empire” but has taken on new and terrifying dimensions in an era of globalization. And Perkins should know. For many years he worked for an international consulting firm where his main job was to convince LDCs (less developed countries) around the world to accept multibillion-dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ended up at Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. This book, which many people warned Perkins not to write, is a blistering attack on a little-known phenomenon that has had dire consequences on both the victimized countries and the U.S.

Would you be shocked to know that this is going on? For our kids to take a ride on the school bus, or for us to take a drive to get our food, people in less developed countries are being stripped of their land and their homes, many (even more than we would like to know) even losing their lives? I guess that is not something that most people like to think about, or maybe we just don’t want to think at all anymore. It is so much easier to eat a ham sandwich and not make the connection. To drive to the shopping mall and whip out our credit card to purchase an article of clothing and never have to think of who made it and what their conditions were. We think that we are happier when we are kept in the dark, but are we really?

Seems to me that all this growth and material gain, is not really getting us anywhere, but stuck on the consumer cycle. Most of us aren’t even thinking anymore, we are just doing. Many will spend their lifetime working to earn money, to spend on things that they think will make them happier, then grow old and realize they missed it somewhere. We don’t even know who we are, or what happiness really is.

Yes, it is scary to think about what really is going on for us to live our convenient and comfortable lives. I’m just glad that I am beginning to connect the dots and become more mindful. I believe that selfishness is the cause of all of the problems that we are facing today and I want to see what my part is and do what I can do to help our world.

Now that we are nearing crisis and realizing that our resources are exhaustible, I wonder if we are all going to wise up? Can we give up some of our pleasures and convenience or are we going to continue to consume until nothing is left? I don’t know all of what is going on for the majority of us to live how we do, but I want to find out. I want to keep on reading and learning and doing what I can. I have to, I just can’t seem to turn a blind eye anymore.

I want to face what we have all become too afraid of, our own selfishness and mindless ways. I want to ask the tough questions and do the research to find out the truth. I want to know what I am putting in and on my body and the bodies of my children. I want to know what I am voting for and supporting with my dollar and most importantly, I want to be able to die knowing that I did my best to live a conscious and compassionate life.

I am thankful for the many blessings that I do have and of course I believe that we all deserve to be happy, but I also believe that our individual happiness should never have to be had at the expense of others deemed lowlier than we are, or worse, our children and our children’s children. We may only be here for this lifetime, but others will have to live in the mess that we have created for many more centuries to come.

I am ready to open my eyes and see where my selfishness has gotten me and take on the attitude of Pocahontas. “I don’t know what I can do, still I know I’ve got to try.”

How about you?

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