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Friday, May 04, 2007

A shrug of the shoulders

I'll admit to being a John Mayer fan. I'm not the die hard, throw my bra on stage type, but I do buy his music and visit his blog. On his latest CD is the single "Waiting on the World to Change," maybe you've heard it. I don't listen to the radio much, so I'm not sure if it's in heavy rotation or not. Anyway, I've always been disappointed in the lyrics and the general message of the song. Today, after perusing Mayer's blog I came across his solution to global warming, a method he calls Light Green. To summarize, it's a cure for global warming like lite beer is the cure for obesity. The lyrics of 'Waiting...' and the Light Green approach assume individuals are so overwhelmed by the worlds problems they feel powerless and do nothing. Mayer advises that the horrible scourge of global warming can be combated through a third way, "A laid-back, panic free approach to environmentalism." For instance, even though he drives a Porsche SUV, his tour bus is biodiesal. And if you have to drive your gas guzzler to the supermarket, just take some reusable grocery bags. It reads like the presentation my fourth grade teacher gave on Earth Day. Mayer's mindset is reflected throughout mainstream society. It's why people like Al Gore make movies like 'Inconvenient Truth' but justify living in a huge mansion because they can afford to buy all that power from green sources. Or why Mayer travels the world singing "Waiting..." but the best he can do for the environment, or his country, is introduce his fans to plastic alternatives via his blog. These people want solutions to problems that don't require sacrifices. Do you think it's Mayer who retrofitted his tour bus and is responsible for tracking down and filling up the tank with biodiesal? They want other people to solve the world's problems or, if they feel moved, they'll help out in ways that don't disrupt their daily lives. It's like answering the call to feed the hungry by scrapping the leftovers off your plate after dinner and dropping them off at a soup kitchen. As Christians, we're called to sacrifice in service to others. Unfortunately, many celebrities and politicians think service means offering lip service and donations while living a life that never brings them in contact with those in need. With all his money and starpower, if Mayer thinks the best he can do for global warming is Light Green, we can be glad he's not leading the fight against poverty. What gets me, is the mainstream media eats this stuff up and hails initiatives like this as 'making a difference.' Mayer is called a celebrity worth emulating. So then, people who start following this plan actually think they're helping the greater good and can become self righteous over nothing more than a glorified reduce-reuse-recycle plug.
Yes, poverty, global warming, war, hunger, etc., are large overwhelming problems that can seem beyond our power to change. Sometimes, we may believe that such problems can only be solved by large, far off committees or federally funded government agencies. Or we may convince ourselves of such to justify turning a blind eye to the needy in our neighborhood. We must be willing to start small to tackle the problems. Rosa Parks was one woman who didn't give up her seat. Mother Teresa started helping the poor of India by herself. Dorthy Day and Peter Maurin started with one paper and one hospitality house. If we start small and are willing to sacrifice we make a difference. It's unfortunate that many people, some Christians included, do not see the value in sacrifice. Unless we are willing to lose everything we won't gain anything. People who value the comforts of this life have the hardest time sacrificing in an effort to help others. Those of us who aspire for heavenly reward are the ones who must lead the charge to overcome our communities, our state's, our country's and our world's problems. We cannot rely on those who cling to their riches while extolling easy solutions or pass more laws.
So, in conclusion, I don' t hate John Mayer. I still enjoy his music and will continue to read his blog. (Not that he'll care either way.) But I think his flawed views are representative of many people in the country in regards to how we tackle society's ills. As long as we are content with, and popularize, such surface treatments, we will never make a dent in the underlying cause. Until we wake up, and embrace self sacrifice-the total giving of oneself- as the means to end all problems, we will struggle along in our selfishness. If you think you're not up to the challenge, that you're not strong enough to tackle even the problems in your town, you've failed to learn from those before you and given in to the temptation of sloth and apathy.
"We would like to see more small communities organizing themselves, people talking with people, people caring for people, people coming together in order to make known what they believe and what they would like their nation to do. Apathy, like sloth, is a sin. Why do we have to think that a shrug of the shoulder is being realistic, that indifference to the bureaucratic power of federal officials or the power of some of those union officials who behave like the company folks they bargain with is the only sane alternative?"
Dorothy Day, '...A Radical Devotion', pgs 107-108


Nate Wildermuth said...

Terrific, Kelly. :) Thank you.