Monday, October 15, 2012

Having it all?

I was visiting with my wife recently about the concern many teachers and administrators have about the high level of stress among many students at the school where she teaches.  This private school has high standards and expectations that match the sky high tuition costs. Most all of the students there are aiming for As in all of their classes, while also wanting to excel in extracurricular musical and athletic activities and possibly participate in service learning, so that they can successfully become enrolled in prestigious colleges and universities.  The catch is that they would like all of this while being stress free and being able to sleep eight or nine hours a night.  Sadly, I don't think that the days are long enough, or that their are enough students at the top 1 percent level of academic, social and athletic ability that that can achieve these lofty expectations.

Expecting great things without accurately weighing the costs is common in our society.  One of the ways we've overcome our many worldly desires is by putting our purchases on the credit card, both individually and collectively as a nation.  I just heard the story of a young man who managed to put $30,000 of college debt onto his credit cards.  One of the cards now carries an interest rate of 16 percent.  Ouch.

Another way some seek to "have it all" is by working feverishly, often at the cost of health and relationships. When it comes to fitness, for the many unwilling to eat properly and exercise regularly there are scores of fad diets and drugs that promise quick and easy results. The slow food movement is working to counter the popularity of the fast food industry. It focuses on healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

According to the World Watch Institute the United States, as a nation, has less than 5 percent of the world's population, yet annually consumes 25% of the world's coal, oil and natural gas.  It is time we curb our appetites and seek a more balanced lifestyle. That might just mean not getting into ivy league school, driving a new car or having a big house, and that's alright.

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