‘Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle’ … Why Recycling Might Be Part of Human Evolution

What do you see? Just a pile of junk?

Are you an environmentalist type? Do you recycle every tissue you sneeze into, or do you think it’s all a load of bunkum the powers that be made up to bring in a bit more cash?

Either way round, I’m beginning to think that recycling is part of us growing up as a human race, and not in the way you might think.

Have you ever noticed how religions tend to use a lot of symbolism?  How every seasonal celebration has it’s own customs, things that are done every year, the same items that are brought out every time, and the same rituals performed.  Ever wondered why?  I think one of the reasons might be to make things accessible to the masses.  If I tell you “Well at this time of year, it’s a time where we learn to curb our desires and desire something higher instead” that’s a lot harder to grasp than if I tell you to ‘give something up for Lent’.  If I tell you “At this time of year we have extra Divine protection, so tap into that now” you might find that it a little difficult to get your head around and to feel, and it makes it far easier when you’re asked to build a Sukka, a temporary protective shelter in your garden and use it as your home for seven days in a row!  Do you get what I’m saying?  Most religions have a lot of physical symbolism going on which helps us to grasp the abstract concepts behind the rituals.

Similarly, when you teach a child to do maths, first you teach him to count, add, subtract etc with wooden blocks or his fingers or whatever, and then once he’s grasped the mechanics of the thing with physical objects you can teach him to do sums with the numbers written down.  Finally he can move to doing sums in his head, and at that point he’s doing the same process but using abstract concepts instead of physical objects.  With me so far? To cut a long story short, doing something in the physical world gives you the skills to be able to do it in your head, goddit?

Ok, so now what is really going on with this recycling business?  How is it that the whole world seems to have gone recycling crazy?  While the benefits of reducing waste are certainly clear in a physical sense, I think there’s something much deeper going on here.  I think that Gd/The Universe/Evolution call it what you will, is providing us with the opportunity to learn a lesson in the physical so that we can go on to apply it as an abstract concept.

Cut to my sons TV schedule. Programme after programme about goodies against baddies, finding the bad guys and weeding them out.  Cut to yours and my TV schedule.  Often a very similar thing.  The good guys against the bad guys.  Find the evil and eliminate it.  Cut to the way we deal with illness… and it’s the same thing: find the germs and kill them.  Locate the cancer and cut it out.  Look at the way we do our world affairs, and supposedly keep world peace.  Support the good guys, ‘neutralise’ the bad guys.  Stop the enemy in his tracks.  Take out the baddies.  We’re the good guys they’re the bad guys, they must be destroyed.  Are you beginning to pick up a theme here?

If you’re sharp, you’ve sussed where I’m going with this already, but I’m going to spell it out anyway.  What’s the message of the recycling movement? Essentially it is ‘Everything is useful.  Nothing is wasted.  Everything is precious.  Respect what we have and make good use of it.  Everything is Good.’  That’s right, EVERYTHING IS GOOD.  Let’s stop and think about that for a moment, in comparison to the way the world often functions.  Isn’t it time to finally take this lesson to heart?

How different would this world be if we took this idea that ‘everything is good, everything is useful’ and started applying it to the way we do medicine, or the way we do peace?  We’ve spent eras going to war against one thing or another, one nation or another, eras vilifying things or people when what we really ought to be doing is recycling them!!!!!!!!

An illness is a sign that something in your body is out of kilter.  The illness isn’t the problem (at least not to start with), it’s your excess junk consumption or the fact that you don’t get enough sleep that’s the problem.  Instead of vilifying the illness, look beyond the illness to the actual problem.  Fix that and the illness doesn’t have to keep jumping up and down waving its arms in the air and trying to get your attention anymore, it can just go away.  Do you know what I heard on the radio this morning?  A recent study surveying the greatest number of cancers ever found that 40% of them are PREVENTABLE purely with lifestyle changes!  40%!

The potential of war signifies that things are out of kilter too.  And it’s not the war that’s the problem, at least not to start with.  It’s not even the people that are the problem, is it, not if we really think about it.  It’s the attitudes that are the problem, and the breakdown in communication and understanding between different cultures.  One of the biggest problems is this attitude of ‘we are the good guys, they are the bad guys, we must destroy them’, when one of the things we could be doing instead is seeking to understand the other guy, and come from the perspective that everything is good.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those who thinks we should sit on our hands and just let a situation deteriorate out of control while we pussy-foot about being all fluffy and kind … we certainly have to take action.  I just think that there must be better actions to take than some of the ones we’ve been coming up with.

As if this blog hasn’t been abstract enough, I’m heading for ‘purpose of life’ stuff.  Many cultures point to the idea that one of the purposes of us being here is to take this world around us and make it a better place.  To elevate the status of all this ‘stuff’ by putting it to good use.   To put it plainly, one of the purposes of existence is progress.  The world is progressing faster and faster, and scientifically speaking we are headed for a ‘singularity’, a time when progress is so great that human beings will not be able to even conceive of it.  This world has done so much progressing already, biting off all the big chunks and digesting them,  that I think now we’re tying off the loose ends.  Imagine you’ve got a plate of food and you want to make use of every bit of it.  You’ve eaten all the big bits and now you’ve come to the crumbs and the gravy.  Do you throw it away and waste it?  Or do you scoop up every little bit and make use of it all?  If one of the purposes of existence is progress, and you want to make the most progress it is possible to make,  then you want to use everything the world has to offer, not throw out this bit or that bit as ‘useless’.  That’s why we’ve come to recycling, both physically and non-physically.

It is time to change this world paradigm that says ‘this is bad, throw it out’.  Every little thing is useful, everything is good.  Every person is worth looking out for, every culture has validity.  If we’re doing it with tin cans, surely we can do it with the way we relate to the rest of the world.

You know, I don’t have all the answers, or even very many of the answers, but I think I’m on to something here.  I’ve rattled on for a while and if you’re still reading I applaud you 🙂

Don’t worry, I’ll probably talk about my kids again next week …  In the meanwhile though I shall go to bed attempting to get my head around the intrinsic validity and usefulness of everything.  Perhaps I’ll even do some physical recycling tomorrow to help me get to grips with the abstract element of it! Recycling will never be the same again…

This week, value everything, make use of everything, find the good in everything and everyone.

I salute the wonder of you.



Posted on December 8, 2011, in Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wow!! Another fabulous blog. Thanks Rivka for your beautiful way with words and incredible insights.
    Xxx Ronit

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