Monday, May 28, 2007

Throwaway Culture

I read a most disturbing article in my local paper, The Fresno Bee yesterday. The article, "Dorms expose a throwaway culture" was written by Larry Gordon, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The article exposed the fact that "college campuses become junkyards of abandoned stuff" - belongings left behind by graduating seniors. Accompanying the article was a photo showing just a small portion of the mountain of lamps, chairs, computers, printers, small dressers, storage containers, bedding, and clothing left behind by exiting college students.

What has happened? These students are a part of the generation who more so than any other generation in history has been taught the importance of recycling, reusing, and keeping the earth "green" in every possible way. These young people have been encouraged to stand in the city squares and student unions to promote environmental friendliness and to warn the world of certain doom due to global warming. And yet, it appears, this same generation is perfectly fine with the idea of contributing generously to trash landfills.

Mr. Gordon points out in the article that students are perfectly willing to leave items behind when they leave college for good, or even for just the summer, because their parents are just fine with buying another clock radio, pillow, printer, or wardrobe for whatever and wherever the next step takes them. These indulgent parents are the same people who are generously supporting the Al Gores and Michael Moores of the world. They drive with pride their hybrid vehicles, and they gladly funnel their donations into all things "green". They then turn around and support their spoiled child's decision to trash perfectly usable electronics and clothing by replacing the "trash" with newer, better...MORE!!

Does this kind of decadence really surprise us? We live in a world where unwanted, unborn children are trashed just as easily as yesterday's newspaper. What makes us think that we can teach our children the importance of saving the planet when we put zero importance on saving lives?

Thankfully many colleges have found ways to keep the unwanted, but still usable discards out of the landfills. They are donating the items to various charities, or they are holding massive yard sales and donating the proceeds to worthy causes.

Until we start putting at least as much importance on saving the unborn as we do on saving the planet we will never really convince anyone to save anything. We are absolutely living in a "throwaway culture".

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Living With Roaches

Last night I drove south on G Street as I have done many times in the past. I've had the privilege of taking part in programs that minister to homeless men at the Fresno Rescue Mission located on G Street, just south of Ventura. It is the Rescue Mission that has most often drawn me to what is for most Fresno residents a VERY undesirable part of town - to say the least.

However, it wasn't the Fresno Rescue Mission that called me to drive to the dark, filthy, drug infested neighborhood that is G Street - it was my son. My oldest son is home from prison on parole. Well, he's not actually at home since the great California Parole System in their wisdom have decided my son shouldn't be around my daughter - who also lives at home. I won't even discuss the rationale behind their decision, as it is in fact irrational, but it is what it is. So, in order to deliver a few bags of groceries to my son I drove past the rescue mission, past too many to count shopping carts, and past the little village known as "tent city" - homes built out of camping tents, garbage bags, and building scraps. Finally I arrived at the small, roach infested motel that the State of California has demanded my son call home for now.

The room my son is living in was everything I expected it would be. There was a bed to the left and a worn, splintering cabinet on the right that cradled a barely working television set with a 15 inch screen. My son pulled back the covers on the bed to reveal holes in the bottom sheet that appeared to have been put there by repeated stabbings from a knife of some sort.

Where is the hope? A newly paroled young man who wants to turn his life around is put in the darkest part of town, surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, and the mentally deranged. He is forced to spend at least 14 hours a day in this place and is expected to find a job, stay out of trouble, and find reasons to believe in himself and to have hope.