ponderings of a cat

PSA: hypothetical situations of “other lives” discussed

In another life, I must have been a cat.

I say this because I am especially good at napping and eating, and often times I seem aloof to others when I actually just want to be cuddled.

Say the concept of a spirit living multiple lives is indeed true—how would this affect the way we act in this life?

What if, in another life, you were a resident of a developing country in the early 2000’s. Jobs available to you are all demeaning at best, and hazardous at worst. You are paid criminally low wages, and you wonder if you will be able to eat this week…

Or maybe in another life you inhabit an overdeveloped country in the year 2100. You are able to read books and watch movies in which planet Earth is a beautiful place with blue skies in the spring, pristine snow in the winter, cascading brightly colored leaves in the Fall, and summers filled with ripe fruit. However, this is not the planet Earth you have known in your lifetime. You read the news each day only to find population rising exponentially, the waste of previous generations forming continents where before there was clear blue ocean, and storms torrenting humanity across the globe. Sometimes you sit and dream of a simpler time on an un-crowded Earth—when there was not a constant smog cover and you could see the sun shining through trees overhead…you think, “if only our ancestors had been more thoughtful of their actions and how they would affect future inhabitants of Earth…”

Of course, this is all hypothetical…or is it?

I would say that this type of thinking is empathic, but what if your spirit actually experienced a life like one of these before you embodied the person you are now? In this case, you would not be thinking empathically, you would just be remembering. However, since there is no way to know for sure what other lives we have lived or will live, we can simply use this food for thought to engage in current state—future scenario analysis when combatting wicked problems of our time.

We are the ones steering humanity’s future. It would behoove us to take more responsibility for our actions—instead of simply placing the blame on each other. One example of this is the “China Syndrome” as discussed in the YES market reading. Although it might be true that China is the country with the largest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, this does not mean only China is at fault. Many factories in China contract and license with businesses and companies in other developed countries such as Japan, the United States, and countries in Europe. This concept is misleading and only gives other countries a sort of moral pass because they are not being blamed directly.

It is important to behave sustainably and consciously acknowledge the consequences that our actions could have on the environment and on other organisms. Recently, I learned about a company that seems to encompass a rounded understanding of this concept. Pangaia is a “materials science” company who uses sustainably sourced and recycled materials to create garments that would be staples in anyone’s closet. Their products range from track suits made from recycled bottles to coats substituting goose down with insulative material made from wildflowers. This company states that, “Every technology we work with aims to solve an environmental problem of the fashion/apparel & nature industry.” I think Pangaia is on a noble pursuit and I look forward to hearing about what they do in the future to come.

As far as myself and my journey to help alleviate one of our planet’s many wicked problems, I have to keep reminding myself of one crucial thing: I know I am small, but I can do big things. Sometimes it seems hopeless and overwhelming to try and tackle something as daunting as a wicked problem, so I need to keep both my chin up and my morale high. The wicked problem I will be addressing in my investigative report is the overwhelming presence and danger of E-waste on our planet. I am exploring solutions relating to the design of electronics and the way we use them. I really resonated with Leyla Acaroglu’s Ted talk about soggy lettuce, and I am excited to try and apply her position and thoughts to this wicked problem. Some things I have thought of so far include biodegradable materials used in the design of electronics, updating the electronics we already have so there is no need to throw away, and possibly creating a system in which you rent or contract out electronics for a few years, then return them to the manufacturer to be recycled into materials for “new” electronics. However, each of these ideas still need research to create a solid foundation for viability.

To conclude, I would like to return to the idea of other lives.

I gave two examples of other lives that are raw and hard and most likely would be dismal lives to lead…However, let’s now think of a life in which you live in the year 3000 (not a Jonas brothers reference). You have two dogs (a big one and a small one and they are best friends) and a loving significant other and family. History books have taught you about a time in which humans mined the Earth for a resource called “fossil fuels” and disrespected the planet they called home by polluting it and treated each other with anything but respect and kindness. You laugh. How silly humans are, and how silly it would be to harm the environment and each other wittingly. You take your two dogs for a walk, and enjoy the sunshine and the lush outdoors—free of pollutants, waste, and, most importantly, free of hate. You think to yourself, “Thank goodness our ancestors had enough sense to start becoming mindful of their actions. I don’t even want to think of a world in which they didn’t.”

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