Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Throwaway Culture

"Simple Beauty"
-along a desert trail-

Yesterday, as I was leaving a local restaurant, I saw someone emptying out trash into a huge dumpster in back of the building, and I was immediately reminded of a story that had been haunting me all day long - a story I had read in the Los Angeles Times about a prostitute who had been murdered. 

The morning paper featured a picture of the murdered young woman. She was only 21 years old and looked more like a little girl than a woman with her curly blonde hair and freckles and big blue eyes. 

She had been pretty much on her own after her dad died when she was a young teenager back in a little town in Oklahoma. Then she made her way out west. Every day the body of this beautiful young girl was bought and sold on the streets of the big city, until one day her luck ran out and she was brutally murdered.  

Her naked body was discovered in a dumpster- thrown away like a piece of trash. 

Such a profound tragedy.

The story struck me deeply - a stunning icon of the "throwaway culture," so characteristic of  contemporary society.

We eat in "fast food"restaurants and when we are finished, we throw away all the paper and the plastic and the uneaten food - into a trash can, out into the dumpster.  When a relationship doesn't seem to be working out, the first response is often to throw it away.  Old people and poor people, homeless people and sick people often just get thrown away when they are too much of a bother.

I recently had a very troubling conversation with someone who is about to lose his job. He was depressed and despondent, not so much because he was about to be unemployed; but because he felt he had been used, saying: "For all those many years I was always told how valuable I was as an employee, but the minute they thought I had nothing more to give them, they just dumped me."  

Yesterday I walked a wilderness trail pondering the tragedy of a "throwaway culture," and I thought about how "God" is the great ecologist. 

In nature, nothing ever gets thrown away. The leaves of a tree fall to the earth and die to become  nourishment for the new life that will sprout forth again from that same tree when it blooms in the springtime. In nature nothing ever gets thrown away - "God" is the great ecologist.

In my walk yesterday I came across what looked like a dead old bush. The desert is full of shrubs like that. But when I examined it more closely, that tree wasn't dead at all.  It was filled with life and energy and in a few short weeks it will likely be covered with blossoms. What a tragedy it would be if someone came along, and thinking the old bush was dead, cut it down and threw it into a dumpster.

On this first day of Spring I think about the "throwaway culture" in which I am immersed.  This is a good day to ponder how good an ecologist I am. Today is a day to reflect on how well I take care of the natural world. Today is a good day to ponder how I care for my relationships. 

This first day of Spring is a sacred opportunity for me to celebrate my place in a universe that never throws anything away. 


  1. there is NO-thing new under the sun. not even's all recycled. God IS the OG ecologist.