I've been reading a lot recently. One of the books I've been reading in the last month is a book called March by Geraldine Brooks. It's a look at the other side of the story Little Women. The book is from the view point of the father of the little women, Mr. March, who in Little Women is away serving as an army chaplain in the civil war. The book moves through war scenes to memoirs of home, to romance with Marmie, his wife, with eloquent and beautifully descriptive prose. Anyways, there's a paragraph I'd like to share with you, because I think it's profound and it rattled my thinking, in a good way. Mr. March says on page 127,
"I have come in stages to a different belief about how one should be in this life. I now felt convinced that the greater part of a man's duty consists in abstaining from much that he is in the habit of consuming. If I prolong my dark hours by the consumption of costly oil, then I waste both the life of the beast I slaughtered for the purpose, and the clarity of mind which comes from timely sleep. If I indulge in coffee then I pay to pollute myself, when instead I could have a cleansing draught of water at no charge at all. None in our household ate meat, but now we learned to do without milk and cheese also, for why should the calf be deprived of it's mother's milk? Further, we found that by limiting our own consumption to two meals a day, we were able to set aside a basket of provisions from which the girls were able to exact a pleasure far greater than sating an animal appetite. Once a week, they carried the fruits of their sacrifice as a gift to a destitute brood of German immigrants."
I am amazed by this passage, because it speaks of living by thinking of others and always viewing the consequences of one's actions, which is something missing from much of our American day. I love the idea of excluding a meal to share with another in need. That is amazing. I can't imagine the wonderful result if we all lived that way. I, in no way, can say that I live in the way this passage described but I think I should. I'm not standing on a vegan eco high horse, because I am not a vegan or vegetarian, or all green, nor do I go to bed before 11pm, but I do see the value and reason for choosing to live that way. I think the value of living in such a way that benefits your body and nature and sacrificing comfort to share with others would change so many of the problems we see today. I hope it inspires others. Our society doesn't understand limiting and abstaining consumption of anything, and I'd like to understand it better.