Sunday, June 20, 2010

Better Post

Here's a much lighter subject for Sunday afternoon.  I bought a book a while back that I just started reading...."Living More With Less" by Doris Janzen Longacre.  I've just begun it, so I can't say TOO much, but even the first few pages packs a solid punch.

This book was written in 1980.  That's 20 whole years ago and the issues it discusses have only become more pressing, rather than less.  

The premise of the book, which reflects Amish and Mennonite thriftiness, is that America and Canada are far too materialistic and wasteful.  "There are people starving in China" my mother used to say, "so finish what is on your plate."  I could never figure out how eating my food would help those who didn't have any in China, but this book explains very clearly that there is a connection.  Granted, China is in better shape, in general by Western standards, than it was when I was a child in the 60's, but as the Lord said, "The poor will be with us always" - I paraphrase.  I've heard pastors teach that since Jesus said the poor will be with us always, that somehow we don't have to make them an issue - they're going to be there anyway no matter what we do.   Yes, we should help them, but we don't have to get crazy about it.  Sloppy teaching, that - and I'm sure Jesus didn't mean it that way - "the poor will always be around, so why bother..."

The first chapter, which I am still in, talks about how American businesses use cheap, foreign labor to make goods that rich Americans buy.  The Chinese make all Apple products, including the new Ipad.  They live in dormitories and have to sign an agreement not to commit suicide while they are working there.  If I had to sign something like that before beginning a job, I'd have a lot of second thoughts, but in China, these jobs are primo, better than others - so they are grabbed at.  Meanwhile, we buy up the Apple products for quite a sum - I'm sure a great deal more than they cost to make, including the salaries of the workers.  This is a prime example given in this book as avoid, a problem to solve.

The book also says that American business buys up land in other, poor countries and those who live there grow food that those companies then package and sell to rich Americans.  This leaves less land for the native people in those countries to grow food for themselves.

American = waste, waste, waste.  We waste everything.  Something as minor as re-using plastic bags or not using plastic bags at all, can make a difference.  

Before WWII, there were very few plastics in everyday life.  I recently saw an old picture of a picnic from the late 1930's.  Everything laid out on the tablecloth (and it WAS cloth) was in glass containers or thermoses.  There were some things wrapped in waxed paper - that was it.  When I was growing up, one paper sack (there was no choice between "paper or plastic" back then) on the countertop was good to hold our kitchen garbage for at least a few days in a household of 5 people.   We didn't have to fill up the sack with empty plastic packages, which takes one meal in most households these days, if fast food or pre-packaged food is eaten.

I will have more to say about this book as I continue to read, but I agree with everything so far.  I have always had a disdain for rich people, many of whom become full of themselves because of what they have.  Some might call this Communist, but I say it is thrifty, it is Biblical.  In the Old Testament, one of the rules the Israelites were given was never to glean their harvests so thoroughly that there would be nothing left in the field for impoverished people to help themselves to.  My other favorite OT rule was that every 50 years all land was to go back to it's original owners, so no one would be a "loser" financially forever - or a "winner".  

I've started slowly to try to be more frugal.  Since I work full time AND I'm not much of a cook most days, I have wasted far too much on prepared foods.  I know I will most likely continue to do so to some extent, but I want to try to change, to learn more about healthier, cheaper alternatives, to grow my own vegetables.  I'm getting there one step at a time.  I'm learning and trusting the Lord to work in me to do His will, which is not to squander what He has given me.

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