Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Self-Centeredness


This topic comes up, not only because I live in a houseful of teenagers, but because I live in a country where we are pretty much intent on finding joy for ourselves, even at the expense of others. It's not like we trample people lying in front of us, but we aren't overly aware of how our actions affect others.
I thought about this last night and again this morning while listening to the radio. A small town near Columbus decided to ban texting while driving. The radio spoke with a woman whose husband was killed in a car accident because the other driver was texting. The woman's voice was raw as she asked how that driver could have thought that her text message, her communication with someone by phone, was more important than someone's life. Of course, if we asked the driver, she would not have said that her text was more important than the man's life. But she was busy thinking about what she needed. She was entertaining herself, or answering someone's question about where she was, or her plans for that evening. I never thought that texting or talking on the phone was self-centered until I heard the wife's words about her husband's death.
Then this morning the radio played some clips from the UN conference where President Obama spoke on, among other things, global warming. He said, "all nations must act responsibly." That doesn't seem self-centered. Later, the president of the Maldives spoke urging nations to make a difference at a global warming conference in December that takes place in Copenhagen. Global warming means something different to President Mohammed Nasheed, leader of an island nation that barely keeps its head above sea level. The story at NPR put it this way: "Nasheed said he's often called upon to remind people in the rich countries about the fate of small island states, but he says the world continues on, business as usual."
How selfish are we that idling in the car in the drive through is more important than the fate of the people in the Maldives. Our wants are more important than their needs, than their existence.
Here are Nasheed's exact words, taken from the NPR story:
When the Maldives desperately want to believe that one day our words will have an effect. And so we continue to shout them even though deep down we know that you're not really listening.

Ouch! That hurt. That takes me right back to Horton Hears a Who. Here is a tiny island calling and waving, warning us of the danger, and we drive two blocks to the dry cleaners, or turn the air conditioning on because it is 80 degrees outside.
Maybe it is time for us to figure out, as people, as Americans, as members of the Western world, that each of our actions is having a reaction somewhere.
I'm going to work on being less self-centered. Maybe it will spread as quickly as swine flu.
Here's the complete NPR story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113107142

Texting photo used with permission from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wishardofoz/3468355123/

6 comments:

Audubon Ron said...

Yes, we should keep the Maldives in mind. What about the fate of our planet if an asteroid the size of a city hit Earth? There are several out there being tracked. Talk about global warming. And what about 2012? Were the Myans right? And what about H1N1. What happens if it reaches H1N1 cubed, like the Black Plague? And what if the Head of NASA is correct, how arrogant of humans to believe that this is the only appropriate climate for Earth? And what if Robert Essenhigh, a professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State, is right disputing the idea that human activity is causing global warming? And what if we learn 100,000 people die in hospitals each year from medical malpractice, more than Aids and twice that of breast cancer? So many questions. And what if a gavetar closer than 50,000 light years away flares up gamma rays like the one that occured Dec. 27, 2004 that wiped out satelites within seconds of the burst fries us as we stand? And what if the moon is moving further into space each year away from Earth at a rate 1.5 inches each year, what will happen to the tides? For me, with all that to consider, sounds like the Maldivians need an exit strategy.

Paulita said...

Look how earth-centered you are!

BFF said...

I like the analogy. There are nations in the South Pacific that have already evacuated - effectively ceased to exist - because of global warming. Driving, air conditioning, etc contribute to the problem but one of the big issues, that gets little attention, is beef production. Fast food restaurants cause more global warming than almost anyone else not through idling drive throughs but because of the production of beef. From the feed grown to feed cattle in feed lots to the destruction of rain forest for grazing land, the increase in our consumption of red meat fuels the warming of our globe in ways we don't think about. I am not suggesting vegetarianism but more informed choices. And i will turn my car off when sitting in parking lots and I will NOT text and drive. My driving is dangerous enough

Stephanie said...

We live in a very entitled, self-serving society which makes us "less" of who we were meant to be. And the truth is, to become "more" takes such little effort and change in our everyday lives. We are living beyond our means on this planet. Our lifestyle is not sustainable. And ironically, this lifestyle doesn't necessarily equate a happier life. The happiest people on this planet are those who have the least material goods, but whose basic needs for food, water, shelter and family/community are met. We could ALL learn a lesson from these individuals.

Just me said...

I confess, my carbon footprint for life (my limit, my lifetime) was used on my cruise.

Since you guys are so good, can I buy a little carbon emissions from you ?

My comment sounds a little self centered doesnt it, sorry. Both are very worthy causes, Thanks for the topic and the reminder.

Not politically correct by any means said...

The saving grace (or thought in my head anyway) is the earth doesn't care what we do or don't do. It will go on, adapt, ice over and then warm up. After we're long gone it will begin it's process again with new life forms.

After millions of years, we are nothing. The beauty of nature, earth, the universe, might be to bring us back to our basic core, what is important. If we are open to hearing and it sounds like you are. We are only hurting ourselves. And although we americans don't believe it, we all are in this together.

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