The Price of Comfort
“Witnesses described a scene from hell: charred bodies strewn around the area and floating in a nearby river, where burning people had jumped into the water to extinguish flames.” – Kenya Gasoline Blast Kills at least 61, by Nicholas Soi and Robyn Dixon – Los Angeles Times (September 13, 2011).
This article caught my attention. It haunted me, briefly, reminding me of the horrors in the world – other people’s horrors – indirectly caused by my comfortable life. And then I moved on… filled up at the gas station….bought clothes without knowing who made them….ate processed foods wrapped in petroleum-based plastic wrap…took hot showers…wasted water. The things most of us do when we are too busy trying to make our way in society. It is too convenient to forget the false premises on which our lives are based. It is too easy to forget mass suffering, starvation, warfare when we have deadlines to meet and planes to catch.
It would be nice to think that humanity is simply evolving to some utopian, egalitarian state. It doesn’t look that way. It looks like we are still in the “survival of the fittest” jungle – just a concrete one. We work harder and harder just to keep a competitive edge over everyone else. We work so hard that we lose our perspective and awareness. You’d think we would know better by now.
Over-committed, under-present: this is the way many of us (myself included) live our lives. But it is not right. It is up to each of us to be aware of our impact – on our community, our environment, and on people – our neighbors – thousands and thousands of miles away. Maybe that means falling behind, reducing some commitments, prioritizing health over wealth… prioritizing “good of the whole” over “good for me.”