Sunday, July 31, 2011

Living well, living good

"Living well" usually means, I think, having a life rich in excellent material things and sensory delights - great restaurants, very good clothes, a villa on a hillside in the Mediterranean, faithful servants.  It used to make me think of luscious bouquets of cut flowers until I read about how cut flowers come our way now by jumbo jet from sweat-shop greenhouses.  Maybe that flower thing is a good example of the difference between living well and living consciously.  Living well is done on the backs of the poor.  And without regard for the cost to the earth.  Somebody mines those diamonds.

But my example today is so much smaller, and takes place in a pretty humble Mexican restaurant, where one waitress struggled to serve our long table of friends gathered for after-church brunch.  I happened to sit near Rick, whose vegetarianism grows out of his compassion for animals.  We talked about his list of vegan restaurants here in town, which is a surprise to me; Columbus is often called Cowtown (see photo above), a hit on not being too hip. He gave me a piece he copied recently about the cost to the environment of the American addiction to lawns.  I thought for the hundredth time about how we could dispense with our stupid lawn.  At least we hire an organic service, a guy who cares about the earth, and whom we really like.

Then comes time to package up what we didn't eat of our meals, which are always too large here in America - you know about that, I bet, how obesity has become a national problem.  Think about that.  Reminds you of the degenerate Romans and their vomitoriums.  The waitress brought me a little styrofoam box; what was left of my lunch will be my lunch tomorrow.  And for about the hundredth time I thought about bringing my own plastic containers to restaurants.  I told Rick, "Styrofoam is a blight on the environment."  He nodded, wrapping a piece of quesadilla in a bit of tinfoil.

Now, why wouldn't I carry a few Glad boxes in the van?  We eat out - at modest places - at least once a week, and I usually bring food home.  And I usually shake my head at the expense of styrofoam, which is made of dino juice, I believe, and involves a lot of manufacturing and is slow to degrade.

Why don't I do that?  Because I would feel self-conscious doing it.  It's bad enough to not drink in America, which our movies tell us was founded on alcohol and greed, and still seems to live up to that model at times. . . .

But I digress.  So I'm going to stop here and go put a few containers in the van, and then sit down to watch the evening news, which will show me much worse problems than my own small fascinating problems with principled nonconformity. . . . Meanwhile, I'm wondering if our zoning will let us have a herd of sheep in the front yard.

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