A Message to America

Before I say anything else, please understand that I知 not saying that I知 better than you. I happen to live a life that is very conducive to living fairly lightly on the earth.

And I知 not saying I知 perfect. Or that you should be perfect. You don稚 have to be perfect. You just have to do the right thing most of the time. And, really, that does not have to be hard. You can start by not doing the wrong things most of the time.

I知 not saying you have to move to a cabin in the mountains and bathe in a stream (though that痴 a nice thing), or live on a boat and take one-minute showers.

Here's what I am saying. No one needs to drive a Denali or a Hummer or any big SUV. If you have kids to transport, there are perfectly acceptable, safe, and fuel-efficient minivans and station wagons. Or how about using a small car like most of the rest of the world?

No one needs to leave the refrigerator open. Or the A/C turned on when you can open the windows. Or the lights on in an empty room. Why does the television need to be on for hours when no one is watching? And is it that much of a hardship to wait for the computer to boot up, or do you really need to leave it on 24/7?

You could take the money that you save on gas, or energy, or whatever, and go visit a European country and see how people live. I知 not saying they are perfect either remember, this is not about perfection. People in other parts of the world drive smaller cars; you would too if gasoline was over $8/gallon as it is there. People live smaller. And you know what? They aren稚 unhappy. And they are often healthier.

This isn稚 a Euro-praising, America-bashing rant. Those examples are just to point out that there are other ways of living and looking at life than how we do it in our country. Whenever I come back, I see how people are so caught up in the American way of living that it seems like there is no other way.

Here痴 a few things that people in the US do that aren稚 the right thing:
1. Say they care about the world and our country and then buy a gas-guzzling car.
2. Say they don稚 care about the world, just about the country, and then buy a gas-guzzling car.
3. Don稚 say anything and buy a gas-guzzling car.

Why? Because it痴 selfish. Simple as that. Whether it saves you money on your taxes, or makes you feel safer, or richer, or more powerful, it痴 just plain selfish. So don't do it. It痴 very simple. Don稚 buy cars that are bad for the environment. (Yes, I know, all cars are bad for the environment. But some are really bad).

And here痴 the most important part. Tell the truth. Either stop saying you care about the environment and continue your energy-wasting ways, or change the way you live.

I知 far from perfect. I致e screwed up big-time in my life. I painted Migration in Mexico because it was cheaper than in the US. Why was it cheaper? One reason is the labor cost. But also, because I didn稚 have to keep things as clean. And a lot of sanding dust and debris went into the water because of that. It was wrong. I won稚 do that again. Will I make a mess again? Yes. It痴 impossible to live without creating waste of some sort. The question is, how much? And the next question is, why?

Do you need that new TV, computer, phone, hair curler? Do you need to buy anything? Or is it just habit? Definitely buy the new smoke alarm to keep your family safe. Buy healthy foods. Go out to dinner to enjoy yourself. Buy a new computer when the one you池e using starts losing data. But what about all the stuff around all that stuff. Look about you. Take some time to examine what you spend your money on. Take some time to think what really matters.

Take some time. And then...

Either change the way you live, or stop giving lip service to the health of the world.

Tell the truth.