Legacies or Landfills?

I was privileged to have a tour this week of a mansion from the 1920’s era. Constructed primarily from stones harvested in local quarries, made stunningly beautiful by the stone masons of the time, it has original painted ceilings, locally made ceramic tile throughout and it is filled with furniture made in early 1900s Canada. It was built and lived in by a manufacturing giant in the area at the turn of the century. He made carriages for people to get around in. When I think about the time around prohibition and the influence it has on our lives even today, I wonder what this time might end up being known for. Will it have a distinctive look? A distinctive style? Do we have style anymore?

Next time you have to stop for a train, take a look at the cargo and you’ll see the majority of it is shipping containers destined for retail locations, filled with stuff made in China. Just try to find goods not made in China. I need a hamper and have been looking for 10 years for one not made in China to no avail. I drive for 2 hours to get garlic grown in Ontario. In the store, it’s all from China. Why are we buying garlic made in China and shipped across the planet? Have we lost our minds?

I don’t have anything against the idea of the Chinese taking on the world’s manufacturing, but in principle, we should never have let it happen. Why do we need the Chinese to manufacture everything for us? Have we forgotten how to take care of ourselves? Have we forgotten the pride of building something, of being creative ourselves, of supporting our neighbours? Has cheap and disposable really won over quality and pride of ownership?

I have a Chinese friend who has made a couple of trips back there this year. She has remarked on how the culture has become so destructive that people are dying of stress related illnesses in their 30s. In fact, she can’t even get her friends there to stop for lunch when she’s travelled across the planet to visit with them. They won’t stop working long enough to take care of the elderly, and indeed the elderly support the making of money over their own care - so culturally, they are driven to accumulate wealth, but not happiness.

So we have record unemployment and lack of satisfaction here, a disconnect to our stuff - who made it and where it came from, and record employment, wealth and opportunity in China but no satisfaction there either, so who is winning exactly? No one is.

It’s time we started buying our food from the local farmers and the goods for our homes from local manufacturers who specialize in what they do.

It’s time we remembered what is important in life, it’s not about getting the most stuff for the least amount of $$. It’s not about working yourself to exhaustion and it’s not about winning. It’s about you. It’s about why you came here to experience life; it’s about how you want to be remembered and how you want to be loved. It’s about community building and self reliance. But probably the most important reason we should be adjusting the paradigm today, is that the earth is running out of resources, whether we manufacture in China or here, the truth is, our stuff is killing us and we need to learn to find satisfaction with less.

We need to learn to find satisfaction in the clink of a glass with a good friend, the perfection of a snowflake, the allure of a charming melody, the beauty of birdsong, a breath of fresh air or the sparkling of a star on a crystal clear night.

If we don’t, in 100 years, what will our legacy be?

 

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