By Susie Ekberg
Q: Why do people keep building things?
A: And yet another gem of a children’s question I just HAD to answer. I just love having the privilege of being around enlightened beings all the time, mostly in my children’s generation. We were driving around the western part of Fargo, where there are some pretty big buildings that are just sitting vacant. My 10-year-old asked me this question as we were driving, and I couldn’t really answer him at the time, so I’m going to attempt to answer his question now. I heard it mentioned once that we currently have enough “stuff” in the world to warrant never having to make anything else new (cars, clothes, houses, appliances). At the time I wondered if that really was true, and if so, why DID we keep making new stuff all the time?
The original question had to do with buildings, but we can expand that thought to include all “things” here on Earth. There’s a basic human greed for shiny new things. I certainly am not exempt from that desire.
There’s a basic human flaw that prevents us from seeing our world and resources as finite. We think it’s all magical and that nothing will ever run out, and once we throw something away, it goes to the invisible land of Not-Here. And if we can’t see Not-Here it doesn’t affect us, and if it doesn’t affect us, we don’t have to worry about it. But that logic is like having cancer in our lungs, but as long as it’s not in our brain we don’t have to worry. Till it travels to our brain; but as long as it’s not in our pancreas we don’t have to worry. And so on until our whole body is riddled with cancer because we kept denying there was a problem as long as there was someplace that didn’t have a problem.
I heard David Suzuki speak once, and he blew my mind in many ways. One of the things I remember him saying is that if problems in the world were like one day, we weren’t even in the 23rd hour. We were like at the 23rd hour, 59 second mark, and we were in a lot of trouble unless we turned things around RIGHT NOW. But still I see a lot of the old way of thinking, “if it doesn’t directly affect me I just don’t care.” Unfortunately, by the time it probably DOES affect us elite few it will be way too late.
What does this have to do with buildings sitting empty? Well, for one thing, it’s a huge waste. If someone tears the buildings down to build new buildings you’ll have a huge mess of rubble that’s, well, a huge mess. If you just keep building and building you start running out of grass and trees and flowers and birds and raccoons and other sweet, furry little animals. Our ignorance and apathy rolls ever onward.
A movie I loved when my older kids were younger was “Fern Gully.” It was all about the destruction of the rainforests. A modern version is “Avatar.” While the theory of building is a sound one (we need to keep growing or building our wealth of information and knowledge), in practice most of us kind of suck at it. We aren’t very conscious or aware. When we DO build we probably don’t use renewable or green resources. We don’t necessarily look at ways to reuse buildings or materials already at hand. We just keep our eye on the shiny new prize – that brand NEW thing.
Why is it so hard for us? We’re basically lazy – it’s just too much WORK to research the options, think of alternatives, be creative. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, don’t reinvent the wheel,” all that garbage. We have to be awake and conscious if we’re to come up with creative solutions to our building needs. Fortunately more and more younger people are rising to the challenge and doing amazing things in the world. They give me hope for the future, and I’m so proud of them, and any of you that are included in this group.
To answer my son’s question, we don’t NEED to keep building, for the most part, but it’s going to take more and more brave and powerful souls to change the mindset of the masses. Then I think we’ll see fewer abandoned buildings and more creativity. One person can make a difference, one act can make a difference. Start now and keep going, everyone. One building at a time, one fixed broken bicycle at a time, one torn sweatshirt saved for rags at a time. It can be done, and we are the only ones who can do it.
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