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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

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Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity

Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"


Featured Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds




February, 2009
8, Number 2

This Month's Article

When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice

As a child I would sometimes take more food than I could eat, and my dad would admonish me that my “eyes were bigger than my stomach.” He did not try to make me feel guilty for all the starving children in India, as was a frequent tactic of parents to get their kids to eat all the food on their plates. The lesson of moderation is much more effective in teaching responsibility and changing a child's behavior than is guilt. We now have a heaping portion of economic woes on our plate, having served ourselves more than we can manage.

The American restaurant is a factual metaphor for a value system that esteems quantity over quality. The stack of styrofoam take-out containers for the unfinished meal is an expected fixture of most restaurants. European restaurants have no such thing nor do very expensive restaurants in the United States. It is rather strange to me that even after being unable to finish a meal in an American restaurant (although having “worked on it”), the server asks if I want dessert! In contrast, at very expensive restaurants one is served skillfully prepared portions that one can finish without feeling bloated. They are presented artfully to please all the senses, savored slowly, and if one is still hungry, one has place for the dessert that is inevitably offered to finish off a fine meal.

We probably cannot expect such a standard in chain restaurants or ones that depend on high volume feeding to turn a profit. Nevertheless, they need to rethink portions if they want to prosper in hard times and to meet healthy food standards for customers. Restaurants ought to take their cues from the clothing industry, but with a slight twist. Clothing manufactures recognize that one size does not fit all (but presumably one price does). It is time for restaurants to have small, medium, large and even extra large portions on their menus, all priced accordingly. Eliminating waste and giving clients choices to fit their appetites and budgets will not only be a sensible alternative to forcing many to overeat, it will also be more profitable and may entice clients to buy and enjoy appetizers and desserts. Supplying containers for unfinished meals not only is an extra expense for the restaurant, it also feeds the petro-chemical factory-to-dump chain.

This example of re-thinking how restaurants on a mass scale could repackage their services is critical to a changing consciousness of consumption in a much larger context. Moderation in everything is more economical and healthier. It further reduces pressures on natural resources and the toxic effects of manufacturing and waste on our environment and in our budgets (“toxic asset” is a new term in the current bank failures). We stuff ourselves when we are unsatisfied or eat carelessly and too fast without enjoying our meal. Developing a refined lifestyle where quality is more important than quantity will promote more human connections and a happier life. In meeting our needs within our means we may experience wealth in our relationships and longer lasting satisfaction without extravagance.

Our instincts for finishing off the kill in lean times needs to yield to managing our production/consumption activities as intelligent beings with ample foresight and planning. As humanity gathers around the carcass of the global economy, we need to realize that fighting for remaining scraps is no way to build a sustainable future. It is no way to live for the benefit of others, which in an interdependent world means our common good.

Now we are being asked to sacrifice, as the demands of an economic crisis will force us to forgo our usual impulsive consumption. We are experiencing the garage sale reality check: “What was I thinking when I bought that?” Getting rid of overabundance is not “sacrifice.” Many, who are victims of a bloated economy that popped will really sacrifice and suffer as they struggle to meet their basic needs and recover from the collapse of their livelihood. For others, reducing the scale of our consumption can hardly be considered “sacrifice.” When an overweight person develops a new, healthy lifestyle by giving up the old, habitual one that puts his or her well being at risk, they reap the benefits of more energy, more wealth, more comfort and better health. “Sacrificing” excessive consumption for moderate tastes is not really a sacrifice; it is a needed makeover of the values that shape our choices.

© 2009 Richard V. Sidy


Read Related Articles

Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival

Fast Food is Really Slow Food

Living the Good Life

Sustainable Development is Nature's Way

The Imaginary Economy — Part I

The Imaginary Economy — Part II


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Diplomacy Help for Teens Science and Religion Poetry Archives
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