What has it cost to have me here? And what can the world realistically afford, for me to be supported in my time upon the earth?
This is a troubling question to contemplate.
I have nearly 75 years to look back over and reflect upon, as to whether I have been and still am a net-contributor or a net-consumer in this world.
I trained as a social worker and as a teacher and when my four children, including two adopted children were finally all settled in school, I went back to work in my local primary school as a special needs teacher. And worked there, devising materials and supporting children with learning difficulties until I took early retirement, in my fifties, to be with my husband as he went through treatment for Hodgekin`s Lymphoma. Having been there to support him throughout this final illness, I spent the next eight years supporting my father, mother and brother on similar journeys through their struggles with heart disease and cancer.
So taking a long view, I guess I have been a contributor within the family, community and society in which I found myself. But these have all been my free choices that have brought me a rich and contented life.
However contemplating this week`s questions, not just as a member of this affluent Western society, but as a member of the whole world community, then this wider perspective reveals clearly that my choices have always stood and do still stand upon the exploitation of the resources and hard labour of people from other parts of the world. Within the wider context I become a net-consumer. Particularly today when huge multi-national companies driven by the profit motive, seek to make that profit at the expense of the welfare of the labour force and to the detriment of the environment, the climate, the wild life and the sustainability of resources for future times.
I am a car driver – I couldn`t get from my village to my tai chi class or the Zen temple without it.
I am writing this on my IPad and download the meditations onto my Laptop. Technology and the social media keep me in contact with the sangha, my friends and the world.
However much I take care and read labels and sign petitions and avoid certain brands, the clothes I buy could have been made in a sweatshop, the technological stuff could have entailed dangerous chemicals in their production, damage the health of the workers and leave toxic waste for my grandchildren and great grandchildren to deal with.
So what a question to reflect upon! My challenge seems to be to bring attention, discernment and honesty to the predicament I find myself in, face it all and continue to make choices without falling into self-judgement or despondency!!!!