Why are we as human beings obsessed with the idea of making the most out of the present? There are numerous idioms about “living in the moment” and “making the most out of your time” that convey warm sentiments, but as a society we’ve taken them too literally. In fact, we’re “living in the moment” so much that there might not be sufficient resources for the next moment, or the moment after that.
We fail to recycle, compost, and efficiently use our resources to a point where they are being effectively depleted for the next generation. We do this not because we don’t understand how to, but because it doesn’t always seem worth our time to go out of our way to separate recycling or compost from the rest of our waste. Our politicians deny the realities of climate change because it makes for a convenient political tool amongst certain blocs of voters, allowing them to stay in power. We embrace a culture of consumerism that encourages us to buy, buy, buy and use, use, use, for the sole purpose of making us feel better in the moment. We’ve even come up with a name for it; retail therapy.
We are warned of what is to come, rising ocean levels, extinct species, decimated habitats and ecosystems, displaced peoples, and countless other consequences. Many choose to ignore these warnings or lament the problems the next generation will inevitably have to deal with. Very few choose to take measurable action towards a deterrent or solution.
We’ve slipped so far into these wasteful norms that doing anything else seems wildly unlikely, even though there are often very reasonable solutions. In a matter of decades, we have normalized a level of wastefulness and consumption that had not previously been seen before on this planet, and while we can all agree that conservation is a noble and worthy cause, no one can seem to bring themselves to commit themselves to those principals. I fully confess to being guilty of this, and I can’t think of a single person who isn’t in some capacity.
For these reasons, I am challenging myself and you to put the present second, and the future first. Consider how your actions today will affect your surroundings tomorrow. There are little steps each of us can take to build a better tomorrow, even if it requires a bit of sacrifice today.