A couple of days back, I posted a couple of pictures--one of a big TV and one of my little girl flying a kite. I posed a question. Which is more life fulfilling, the time spent working to pay for and watching the TV or the time spent in the less resource-intensive activity with my daughter?
I posit, you see, that human happiness need not be resource intensive. In fact, if we change our lifestyles in a way that protects the habitat we depend on, we may well find that our quality of life is better.
So today, Isabella and I went to the same park to fly our kite and a state parks officer came and told us flying kites was illegal. God bless, three-year-old Isabella, because she walked straight up to the officer's vehicle and said, "But if I can't fly my kite I will be very sad." Going home to watch a TV, on the other hand, apparently poses no legal threats.
Meanwhile, last Friday night, here in New York City, a group of cyclists from Times Up! rode on their monthly protest to reclaim the urban landscape from the automobile. In Times Square, as the bikers rode through, a police officer deliberately ran into a cyclist, violently body-checked him to the ground, and then arrested the cyclist for assault (see a video recording the event below and read more here and here).
Whether you're choosing to fly a kite instead of eating McDonalds in front of the TV or protesting bad air in the city by riding your bike, there are huge institutional obstacles to environmental change. They are of a type that is more invidious than, say, the fact that companies use too much packaging.
I mention this just because I think it's important to acknowledge. Because it's part of the challenge. And because it makes me incredibly sad.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.