The Questions that Carry me Forward: Why I am at Plant With Purpose
Written by Plant With Purpose on March 11, 2011 in General
March 10, 2011
By Dahlia Guajardo
The more I read and learn about what is happening in the global economy and to our natural habitat around the world, the more I realize that the disappearance of fish, animals, and forests is not environmental degradation. It’s a divorce, the kind that’s sad and messy that people hoped would be quick and liberating. Further, it’s costly. The negotiations include a new relational scheme in which the earth is wedded to equipment and profit shares instead of human beings.
The formation of cities went hand in hand with the formation of the market economy, and the market decided to put capitalism in charge of my well-being. The problem with letting capitalism concern itself with my well-being is that my well-being is not its primary concern. Money is. I know that crops sprayed with chemicals that seep into the surfaces of strawberries and cucumbers are not the best things for my body or for the waterways in which the chemicals are eventually deposited. However, what is more problematic than unhealthy bodies or an unhealthy environment, is an unhealthy relationship.
There is a kind of magic about ignorance, about having nothing to do with what I consume. Magic, like religion, transports its practitioners into a new world vis a vis a new understanding of the world. Magic creates mystery. Where did this tomato come from? Who picked it? How was it grown? I don’t know. Not knowing is the pinnacle of a privileged worldview.
Ignorance is consumerism’s magic, and along with opportunity it also creates a lack of accountability, transporting me to a world where I am never asked to count the cost of the things I enjoy. I have been fooled into thinking that money is the value of what I buy. In another magic trick metal coins and paper bills become more real than the people who sewed my shirt or the tree that is now my desk. Consumerism’s consolation is that if I don’t have any knowledge about something, I can’t change it. So, I’m not responsible, right?
Severing connections has its consequences such as losing my ability to relate to the earth. This has been the root of my and others’ willingness to pollute water sources, burn through the ozone layer, eradicate plant and animal species, and deforest the land. Because I am outside the process, I see products without ever witnessing the effects of their creation. This is true not only in agriculture, but in the formation of a myriad of other consumer goods from television sets to basketballs and printers.
Does my cheap consumption come at the price of another human being’s dignity when the labor used to produce what I buy is that of an exploited foreigner? These are questions I often avoid asking myself, because I feel powerless in my ability to resolve them adequately. Should I dress in potato sacks and become Amish or join a commune so that I don’t have to pollute the earth or participate in a consumerism rife with immorality?
Personally, I like modernity and post modernity and the paradigm shifts that accompany them. I don’t want to withdraw myself into a small enclave or subculture. Rather, I am striving to move forward by focusing on what I can do so that I might faithfully honor the ancient pact we made with God to take care of the stuff he made and loves. I am seeking to be a conscious consumer and an informed advocate for my brothers and sisters around the world.
I want to live in the knowledge of my savior Jesus Christ and seek out a knowledge of how my actions affect the world. Only in this knowledge can I begin to be accountable, responsible, and responsive to the people and the environment God loves. God does not require that I fix problems only he is big enough to solve, but rather that I orient my heart towards his and act out of that orientation. For me, Plant With Purpose’s holistic approach to caring for the rural poor is an opportunity to reconnect my heart with the heart that Christ has for all of his creation.