We watched Interstellar again this last weekend, and although I don’t think it was a great movie, it wasn’t bad either. It did have a few really great moments, and one of them is stuck in my head today. I guess because it has been an issue with me for years; the idea of our planet dying or being sick really resonates with me, which is after all why I wrote the Irrevocable Series.
The exact scene I am referring to has the grandfather sitting on the porch with Cooper, the main character, and they are talking about how we are a world of consumers. Companies come out with new products every day; new gadgets and devices that make our lives easier or better, or at least claim to. And of course, our role is to buy up and use all of this new technology; to dedicate ourselves to working harder to earn more money to buy more stuff. But what if we stopped doing our part? What if we simply stopped trying to have it all?
Sitting at a stoplight on the way to work this morning, that’s exactly what I was thinking about. We get caught up in the whole cycle, and once we are accustomed to having something, we can’t seem to live without it. We have existed as a species for thousands of years without cellphones, but now that we have them, they are glued to our hands. Leaving home without it is a catastrophe, and a person not owning one means that something must be wrong with them.
So, what would happen if we simply stopped filling our lives with all the junk that is being offered to us? Could we get by with only one television in the house again? What if we only had one phone, and it was attached to the wall in our kitchen, where it belongs, instead of following us around everywhere we go?
I’m working at a junior high for a few more days (I’ve been here five weeks) and I see these kids and how they are severely limited in inter-personal skills. They have a hard time talking to one another and interacting appropriately, and I can’t help thinking about what it was like growing up in a small house with pretty much only one of everything. We had one phone, one bathroom, one television, and we had to share. It taught us perspective, and that everything, every resource, is limited.
I think something has been lost in that; something major. Every one of these kids has their OWN cellphone. They have a television in their rooms. Heck, many of them have their own bathroom at home. They don’t have to share anything in their private lives, and therefore have no idea how to compromise or what the rules for such a need would be. They are clueless what to do when they don’t get their own of whatever it is that they want or need.
Furthermore, they don’t see the value in anything. Cellphones are expensive, yet they throw them down the hall, or across the patio, as if they were a Frisbee. Ninety percent of them have screens that are cracked or broken from ill treatment. And we wonder why we have to replace broken desks, and why they can’t take care of them, when they can’t even take care of something that BELONGS to them. Why would they care about something that isn’t theirs?
I’m shaking my head while I think about it. I truly believe that less is more, and that some of the most valuable things we learn while living at home with our parents and siblings do NOT come from what we get; they come from what we don’t get, and how we handle earning those things. How do we learn to appreciate anything when it can be or will be replaced without consequence? It’s simple; we don’t.
You want to teach your kids about living a long and happy life, stop giving them everything. Let them learn some people skills and what it’s like to be a part of a group with limited resources. That’s what this planet needs – that’s what our society needs. Less is more, money can’t buy happiness, and learning to deal with people is a skill technology will never help to improve or be able to teach.