Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back in "Reality", or at Least a Different Reality


Back to the reality I am currently experiencing, where school, work, and family will clash over the next few months and I will be charged with managing their peaceful combination. (Image from Orion Online)

It's Saturday, it's raining, and I am settling down to an exhilarating problem set in macroeconomics. In fact, I had difficulty getting to sleep yesterday evening, more than likely the effect of the transcontinental flight Wednesday night, and decided to spend the hours after midnight reading my economics text. I find some of the content interesting, and I believe that developing my fundamental understanding of classical economics will help me understand why we make the policies we make and how people make small decisions.

On the one hand, these basic tenets of economics help explain the rules we have been following for the past hundred years or so, on the other hand, I find myself thinking behind the text to who developed the study of economics and what was their motive? Has the profession of economics become a place for people interested in advancing the "growth at all costs" mentality, simply reinforcing the unsustainable economies we currently have? Are the Ivory Tower theorists working on things that may help explain where we need to go in a way that will never be applied to the "real world"?

I am just scratching the surface of this topic, and no doubt my comments are made with whole-hearted ignorance of the field of study called "economics".

I found myself reflecting on comments made by one of my new friends at BGI, comments about being sick of the guilt associated with living in a rich country and doing whatever it is we do. He was right. I find myself occasionally paralyzed with guilt, or at least thinking far too much about the repercussions of my actions. Certainly I am not proposing that we throw up our hands and blithely run ahead willy-nilly with little regard for the environmental consequences of our actions, but there is something to be said for accepting where we are and who we are and working from there. There is no perfect solution, and there are no sustainable businesses yet in existence in the USA (small sample size), therefore there are many opportunities for improvement.

A recent article in Orion Magazine reminded me of our need to continue to be conscientious and attentive to our behavior. It's written by Janisse Ray and entitled, Altar Call for true Believers. The author challenges "environmentalists" (whatever that is) to think more deeply about their actions taken in the name of environmentalism. It's an interesting take, and one that takes one view of what it means to be an "environmentalist".

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