One thing I think and talk a lot about and mention in my book No Impact Man is that we are wrecking our planet for lives we don’t even necessarily enjoy. As I say in the book:
What really filled me with despair, though, was that I didn’t believe that the way of life that was steadily wrecking the planet even made us happy. It would be one thing if we woke up the morning after a big blowout party, saw that we’d trashed our home, but could at least say we had had a rip-roaring good time. But if I had to generalize, I would say that, on average, the 6.5 billion people who share this globe are nowhere near as happy as they could be.
Leaving aside the people who have severely limited access to food and clean drinking water, so many people I knew, both in New York and elsewhere in the world’s go-fast consumer culture, were dissatisfied with the lives they had worked to get—the lives they were supposed to want.
Many of us work so hard that we don’t get to spend enough time with the people we love, and so we feel isolated. We don’t really believe in our work, and so we feel prostituted. The boss has no need of our most creative talents, and so we feel unfulfilled. We have too little connection with something bigger, and so we have no sense of meaning.
Anyway, I spoke to a group of parents at an independent school the other night, and a fourteen-year-old who happened to be there came up to me afterward.
She said, I really want to thank your for saying about people not getting to spend enough time with the people they love.
I said, I really didn’t expect someone your age to understand that part of my talk because you haven’t joined the work force yet.
She said, no, I do get it. She said, we have so much homework and then the school expects us to do so much extracurricular activity that I never get to see my parents.
That was when I saw that she had tears in her eyes.
Did I mention she was fourteen?
What are we coming to?