Shopping is Important

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This weekend I was at a UU women's retreat. Lots of hiking, workshops, and organic food from their incredible garden. It wasn't hard to eat 8 or 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Back home now and only got to 5 today. Hmmmmm.

I went to a simple living workshop. Lots of practical advice I'd already heard. Clarify your values. Stand up for the right to give from the heart, not from the big box store. If it's not useful or beautiful, give it away. Stuff I've heard before. I wished there had been more WHY in the workshop. Why staying out of stores makes time for self=expression. Why thinking before acquiring can give you time to think about whether buying that thing is consistent with your values. Why being consistent with our values affects people around the world, not just ourselves and our families. That's my rant, you know it by now.

So at the workshop, I ranted silently and then did the values clarification workshop. I prioritized the long list of things I've intended to do but haven't done yet. The clarification question was "What will happen if you don't do that thing that's been on your list and still hasn't gotten done?" Many times, my answer was Nothing. So these items can be postponed and the other items move ahead. Unless the answer is something like, I won't be as cool as my friend or something. Then you should probably throw that one off the list.

Keep it simple. Make family and friends your priorities. Shopping is important.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bummer! I've been feeling all good about eating more veggie and vegan, fewer meat-based meals. Better for the Earth, healthier for us. Let's get smug. But I'm reading this amazing book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. It's about asking ourselves, What Should We Eat? He writes about all the ethical and ecological reasons to eat more tofu and less beef. That decision's easy enough. Then he got to chicken. I was telling my son I read that the chickens raised for meat have a crappy life, but it's much better for them than for the hens that lay eggs. He said, Duh, Mom, didn't you see Napolean Dynamite? Touche, my son. Tonight he made a cake with 3 eggs. Mom, he said, the hens that laid these were free-range, that's good, right? Hmmm, maybe. I read somewhere else that the only requirement for saying your chickens are "free-range" is that you leave the hen house door open for 5 minutes once a day.

To tell the truth, I've never really thought about chicken happiness, never weighed the suffering of animals against my desire to have whatever I want for dinner. To be consistent with the 7th UU principle (the inter-dependent web of all existence), I need to at least acknowledge my responsibility in helping to maintain current factory farm and slaughter practices.

On the brighter side, I learned about a new diet GUARANTEED to take off weight and keep it off. It's so simple and healthy. Eat 10 servings of veggies and fruits every day. Most servings are 1/2 cup, so it's not that hard (they say). Today I had 5 servings before I had some cake. Yum.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Read what others say about Shopping is Important:

"I think what I like most about your site is that at first you think, what the heck is this? How shallow can you be, shopping is important!? Then, in the context of what you write about you get the bigger picture, that having choices, recognizing choices, using your brain to make good decisions about those choices, understanding the privilege to have the opportunity to inform yourself and decide which way you will choose, is, in the political arena, the ultimate goal and reward of democracy, and on a personal level, the height of maturity and an essential part of developing a positive identity. So, shopping is important."

OK, my brother said it, but didn't he say it well? Shop wisely today.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Your daily life is your temple and your religion." -Kahlil Gibran

This is what I'm trying to say (and I can't believe I'm quoting Gibran, but there you have it): your actions come straight from your values, good, bad, or all mixed up. What you do every day, what you say and how you say it reflects your personal religion, and it might not totally resemble your church's religion.

UUs are lucky; our values are logically consistent, they're based on personal responsibility - UUs don't expect someone up in the sky to solve our problems for us, we don't have to pick and choose what to embrace in our religion and what to ignore, it's all good. And yet, although our 7 principles are easy to agree with, they are really hard to live by. Or maybe it's just me?

Consider the FIRST PRINCIPLE: The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
and the SECOND PRINCIPLE: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

When I try to put my $ where my principles are, I come up short. To live the suburban life requires a bunch of $ for the mortgage, for the cars, for the kids. The more $ that goes for this "lifestyle," the less there is to donate to Father Joe or KPBS. And many of us in Suburbia have constructed very busy lives so that there is very little time to spend thinking about where our $ is going and whether we agree or not and if we don't agree, what can we do about it anyway? If I really believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and in justice, equity, and compassion, wouldn't I be doing more to help those less fortunate than I am? Wouldn't I always buy organic and local? Wouldn't I be willing to pay more so that all workers could earn a living wage?

At some point, we draw the line and say we can only do so much. We're doing as much as we can and that's it. I say make the line soft. When you can, let the feeling of not doing enough stay a little longer. Then think of one more positive thing you can do, and do it.