For several years now educators and organizers have tried to convince people to change their ways and live in a more reasonable style. Every Sunday many priests and pastors spoke highly of been frugal, not to live beyond ones means, etc.
Others, for the sake of health, encouraged people to eat less and exercise more. Environmentalists exhorted people to walk, bike and in general to cut their carbon print on the planet.
Every single one of those advices was mostly in vain. A few persons here and there would try once in a while to be green, healthy and mindful.
Nevertheless, things are now changing, not because of the good advice, but because of the economy.
Now we are paying more attention to expenditures such as traveling and using the car for futile things. Mopeds, bicycles, and even walking are in. It has also become in to lower the amount of meat in the diet and consume more local fruits and vegetables.
I am very glad that the economy has placed us in a moment of confrontation with our daily habits. It is making us realize how much we over spend, how many things we throw away and how in this society we tend to love garages sales and buy one, get one free offers, even if we do not need the second item.
In other parts of the world people usually do not have more that two pairs of pants and shoes. Cars are bought for long runs and houses are inhabited by several generations, even at the same time. In other cultures churches do not have large parking lots, they are open most of the time and they have some sort of additional income besides tithes and offerings. I remember some churches that had small cafeterias, bookstores and similar small enterprises to help support their ministries. And all that existed in a space that would be about one fourth of that used for the same thing in the US.
In other parts of the world people are fit because they walk a lot. Their feet are their main means of locomotion, and on top of that they carry
double their weight on their backs or their heads. One can see this in very picturesque postcards from other places. They look very colorful, maybe not relaxed, but certainly very colorful.
The first world countries have become accustomed to looking at such scenes as natural for others, while enjoying total comfort for themselves without any consequences.
People now live with fear of been poisoned by common foods like tomatoes, spinach, lettuce or chiles. We blame other countries for the unsafe
situation of food in the US. A long time has passed since the US relied on its own resources instead of taking land and food from others. This commercial greed has impoverished our lives and the lives of others.
That is why I see good signs of recuperation. We are starting to realize that our wealth and health is based on overextending our reach until others
have become poor. The change in the economy is giving us the opportunity to appreciate the local farmers and vendors. It may turn us into more creative users of our environment and it will help us think of people elsewhere as our equals.
This is not the first time in history that the economy has changed philosophies and values. A close look at the early colonizers would demonstrate how this has been a constant in the history of humankind.