Tuesday, 30 October 2012


My friend was checking out at the grocery store the other day and the young cashier suggested that he should bring his own grocery bags next time. She charged 5 cents for a plastic bag because her generation is working hard on saving the environment. "I'm sorry", he apologized, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my day." The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

Our generation didn't have the 'green thing' in its day. 60 years ago, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But our generation didn't do the "green thing" back then.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags. We reused them for numerous things besides household garbage bags. We used of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that the books provided for our use by the school was not scribbled on. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But our generation didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked to the grocery store. We didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.  We washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But our generation didn't do the "green thing".

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. thing". We didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But our generation didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But our generation didn't do the "green thing".

Back then we sang a song, "Before you accuse, criticize or abuse, walk a mile in my shoes." You see when we were the younger generation we also contemptuously judged our parents about their unprogressive ways. It was wrong back then too. It took us a couple of decades before we realized that life was not in things, ideals or progressive social programs. We began to realize that people made all the difference. 
When I began to mature my wife actually enjoyed me more day after day and then week after week. Then I started to focus on my children. They were harder to convince that I was a nice guy. They were mean at times. But, I was determined  to make a difference in their lives. I also started to realize that some of my emotional baggage was getting in my way. A decade later I could do some loving things I could not do before and it felt good.

One thing I stopped was correcting people all the time. I was good at that but people rarely appreciated my efforts. At this point I began to realize how hard it had been to change my bad habits and how unsuccessful I was at changing.  I called on God for mercy and it began to flow. And it felt good. A little more kindness and a little less of me. I am a little wiser now.

Many people who knew me 50 years ago probably would be shocked at how different I am now. That's Okay. I deserved most of what they dished out to me. It did not help me because what they gave me was criticism without mercy.  Many good deed "fads" and products have come and gone. Now it is the green thing. Yesterday it was saving the world from communism. Little did we realize that communism was its own cure. People hated it. That poor clerk thinks she is doing good in this world. Without Christ's love and mercy you can do nothing.

Now I am not so quick to condemn. Now I have grace. Now I have something that is not a fad but leads to everything eternal. Now I have Jesus.

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