The convenience truth…

This is all we’ve got … one planet

The other morning I came across an article in the Washington Post regarding the melting glaciers in Peru. It is safe to say that for the majority of my life, I never would have bothered to read the article.  Peru is so far away and the fact that they have glaciers melting would not have triggered any interest on my part.

Fortunately, for me and everyone connected to me, Peru is much closer to home now.  I have spent the last three years of my life in a relationship with a woman that was born and raised in Lima, Peru.  She did not just bring herself into the relationship.  She brought along a culture that is deeply rooted within her.  She brought along her essence, and I became so much richer for the experience.

I was born in Washington, DC and have been a resident of the DC area all of my life.  I went through life believing that I was an American.  Today, I understand that America includes North, South and Central America.  My vision of myself and my country has been altered somewhat.  Today, I understand that those that live in the land of plenty have taken so much for granted that they fail to see the convenience truth.

The first shock to my sensibilities occurred when my woman shared her history with me.  I learned as we shared with each other.  My story regarding the horror of Kent State and the National Guard patrolling the streets of DC at various times were countered with her memories of living under military rule with tanks in the streets and bombs going off on a regular basis.  She shared things that are incomprehensible to most people born and raised here.

People in the United States of America blindly have faith that when they turn on a spigot, water will emerge. It is a given.  It is always there.  We have spigots in the kitchen, the bathrooms, the powder rooms, the laundry rooms and outside of our homes.  Turn the spigot and voila, water flows.  One morning, I was shaving.  I left the hot water running while I shaved.  When finished,  I was confronted ( in a gentle manner ) by my lady and she asked why did I leave the spigot running?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to turn it on and off as needed?  I didn’t bother, it was more convenient to leave the water running. This is a convenience truth … it is easier to waste water than conserve resources. In the aforementioned article, people shared that a 3 hours walk to get water has become a 6 hour journey now that the glaciers are melting at such a rapid pace.

One night, I came upstairs to my office to handle some emails.  I left the television set and lights on in the family room.  I had full intentions of going back down when I finished my work.  My dear lady came in the office and asked if it would be possible for me to turn the t.v. and lights off if I was not using them. I thought about it. Electricity is always there ( barring a storm ).  Flip a switch or press a button and voila … you have power.  Then I realized that leaving electricity on when I was not using it was kind of stupid.  I had left everything on because it was more convenient.  This is a convenience truth … it is easier to use up available energy than it is to conserve natural resources.

We spent one of our early afternoons together going through all the things I brought to the home.  Boxes and boxes of stuff.  Stuff I wanted. Stuff I bought. Stuff I forgot I had. Stuff I had bought twice or more. Stuff.  Together, we decluttered so there would be room for my stuff and her stuff.  When the sorting was done, we hauled what we did not want to the landfill.  She was stunned. For as far as the eye could see there was stuff. There was old stuff, broken stuff, discarded stuff and some almost new stuff.  There was so much discarded stuff it made it impossible to believe that there could be an imbalance of trade or the economy could be bad. Somebody paid for the stuff. Now it was in a landfill. It seemed pretty apparent that consumerism was rampant.  This is a convenience truth …. it is easier to buy new than look around and see if you really need what you are buying.

Left overs are a regular part of our dining experience.  There was a time when I would not think of saving left overs.  I certainly didn’t take “doggy bags” home from eating out.  It seemed to be much easier to just cook something fresh than it was to re-heat last nights dinner left overs.  Left overs were not “fresh”.  I never stopped to think about how much money was being scraped into the garbage. Here is a convenience truth … it is easier to buy a prepared meal than it is to heat up leftovers.

I am a full time Realtor.  She teaches Spanish at a private school and works with me in real estate as time permits.  Her mom and daughter live with us and we expect her college daughter to join us in the spring.  When working, I am used to seeing abandoned homes, trashed homes, empty houses.  Our throw away culture has grown to the point where we actually throw away homes.  To some, these homes are just blights on the landscape.  I look at them and see the incredible architecture, the craftsmanship that went into building the homes.  Where others see rot and decay, I see a framework for a home.  It is more convenient to leave them empty and falling down.  Here is an convenience truth … we would rather allow neighborhoods to decay than take the time and effort to take care of existing buildings.

The Amazon is the lungs of the world.

So where is this going.  The inconvenience truth is rather ugly.  Glaciers are melting.  Greenhouse gases are continuing.  Politicians spend a great deal of time in meetings and committees and blowing hot air.  Rather than do what we can to preserve the earth, we point fingers and attempt to assess blame. It is easier to discuss a problem than it is to take corrective action.  Here is a convenience truth … it is easier to enjoy convenience and be wasteful than it is to conserve our natural resources.

I spent the majority of my life, ignorant to the impact that my lifestyle was having on the world around me. I grew up in the land of plenty.  It took life lessons from someone that grew up in a different place, in a different culture to open my eyes to the convenience truth.  There is only one planet.  The oxygen created by the rain forest in the Amazon is the very air that you breathe.  One of the sources of life for that rain forest are the melting glaciers in Peru.

If we fail to begin to conserve our resources, one day you will turn the spigot and nothing will appear.  If we do not change that rate in which we use our energy resources, one day you will flip the switch and nothing will happen.  If we do not begin to live within our means ( very old saying … buy it new and wear it out, pay with cash or do with out), one day we will find our currency is worthless.  If we do not change our wasteful eating habits, one day there we may go to the cupboard and the cupboard will be bare.  If we fail to maintain the buildings that exist, we may never find a way to provide shelter for everyone.  If we continue on the wasteful path we are following, we may wake up to discover that there is nothing left to waste.

This is for my children, and their children and all the following generations.  I may be a much better person today because Lourdes Tudela welcomed me into her world, but her legacy will be that she opened the eyes of many to a better world.  I only hope that those that read this will look beyond jingoistic rhetoric and understand that for us to truly be a world leader… we have to lead. And that my friends is the convenient truth.


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