Our Global Inheritance

As a parent, I worry more than I used to.  It comes with the territory.  Suddenly the future is more than just your lifetime, it’s the future your children will grow up in.  I read about the upcoming permanently unemployed class, and global warming, and the dangers of synthetic chemicals, and short attention spans, and things in the air.  Amphibian and bee populations collapsing.  New studies claiming that soy is actually dangerous, and that college is a waste of time, but that you’ll need a PhD to compete for a job at the local Starbucks in a couple more years.  On the other hand, even today Google is hiring an increasing number of employees that don’t have a college degree because it’s no real assurance of talent.  So what career advice do I give them?  Son, if you want to go to tradeschool and be a plumber, you have my blessing…

I work towards developing my own career, and giving my children a more secure financial future than the one my own parents provided me.  This can be overwhelming.  The other day I was thinking about the number of plastic bags I use in a day.  Forget for the moment about styrofoam or plastic cups, take-out containers, and the deadly razor-sharp edges of modern-day plastic toy packaging; just think about bags.  It’s shocking.  I’ve converted to cloth bags for the grocery store, but plastic bags are such a huge convenience factor in our lives now, just think about it:

  • Sandwich bags
  • Trash bags
  • Grocery bags
  • Shopping bags
  • Produce bags
  • Takeout bags
  • Gift bags
  • Bread bags
  • Diaper Genie bags (the most deadly of all)

trash-croppedYou’re lucky if an hour goes by that you aren’t interacting with a plastic bag.  Just multiply that by seven days a week, and then by the number of houses in your neighborhood.  I know I’m not the first person to come up with this observation, but it made me feel like Frodo near the end of The Two Towers, seeing an insurmountable task and just despairing.  Or Theoden, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”  It’s inertia we’re up against here, though, the enemy is complacency.  Just living our lives day to day in little ways that could easily be changed, but won’t add up unless they happen on a massive level.  It’s so hard to get past the convenience factor, when there are so many things to worry about.  You get overwhelmed and you think, “How can my small changes make a difference?”  I’m doing it anyway.  I’m not an environmental or political activist, but being a parent has become the source of my motivation. I won’t deny that it feels like a drop in the bucket, though, especially compared to 100 million tons of trash just bobbing around in the ocean…



I’ve been hearing about how New York is putting mandatory food recycling measures in place.  Bravo.  We need more of this, and we need it now.  But there’s no great urgency, because for the individual, this sort of thing seems inconvenient and inconsequential.  If the city weren’t making this mandatory, how many people would be doing it?  This is going to work, not just because it’s mandatory, but because they are setting up the infrastructure (that’s the SimCity mayor in me talking).  You need both those things, enablement and motivation.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this, but I don’t always think about pinball.  Pinball is an escape.  This is the stuff on my mind as I go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning.  Not just inheritance on a micro level, how we set up our kids for a successful life in society, but global inheritance.  And these days, the latter is being thrown into question.  Or is it just that we read about this stuff more often due to social media, and that the sensational and panic-inducing stories are the ones that rise to the top?  I don’t know, but I sure miss the 80s…

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply