Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

January 24, 2008

A Story

We’re going to have a lot of people coming to our blog soon. Many will have questions about why we do what we do. So I’m glad we started this series. But I also wanted to share a story, or a parable I guess, that I made up this morning while I was still in bed (and also while taking a shower, which is funny considering what the story is about). It’s for anyone who wonders how “love your neighbor” can apply to recycling and, specifically, dumpster diving. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Once upon a time in a land far far away, there was a village. :) There were about a hundred people in this little village, and in the center of the village was a small pool of water fed by an underground spring. Every day it would fill up with the same limited amount of water, about 15 gallons or so, and every night the villagers would come gather water for their families. Some of the poorest in the village would simply cup some water into their hands and drink from the pool, but most would bring a small cup or jar and take that back to their homes.

One rich man, though, would completely fill a five gallon bucket and haul it back to his family of five every single night. At their dinner table, they would each use pitchers instead of cups, and whatever the man and his family didn’t drink they’d pour down the sink. Then the mother and daughters heated pans of water and soaked their feet, giving them the fairest feet in the village. Meanwhile, the father and his son loaded up their water pistols and played out in the yard. Whatever water was left over at the end of the evening was simply thrown outside on the rocky path leading out of the house.

On the other side of the village, however, things were not so pleasant. You see, around 30 to 40 of the villagers didn’t get much water, and often none at all. It was usually the poorest folks, since they had to work longer and were the last ones at the pool. And the water was frequently gone by the time they arrived. These people were almost always sick, and every so often, one of them would die.

One day, the son of the rich man went out to play with his friends. He did not know that he wasn’t supposed to play with the poor village boys. Actually, being young and innocent, he didn’t even notice that they were poor. But on this particular day, what he did notice was that one of his best friends wasn’t there. When he asked about him, the son learned that the boy had died the night before…because he didn’t have enough water. The boy remembered all the water they threw out and the water fights they had every night, and he decided to do something about it.

It didn’t take him long to think of some ideas. The next day, at the end of the evening, he asked if he could throw out the leftover water. Then, when his parents weren’t looking, he ran back to the well and poured it back into the pool. Why not reuse that water, he thought, instead of wasting it? Everyone at the water pool was so thankful, and there were only a few that night who didn’t have enough. Not satisfied, he started gathering up water after the water pistol fights, even wringing out his wet clothes into the bucket, and using that for his own water…asking his dad to not get any water for him out of the pool. He realized how wasteful the water fights were, and decided he’d do his small part in making sure that perfectly good water wasn’t wasted while others were in need. He thought that if only he could convince his two sisters and his mom and dad to do the same, everyone in the village would have enough.

He was right…if only.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” ~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Hopefully, my story was clear enough for you to figure out why we might recycle and “redeem” perfectly good food that’s been tossed out (if not, reread that last paragraph with that in mind). What you might not have figured out is that the statistics are accurate. We in the U.S. have 5% of the world’s population, yet consume 30% of the world’s resources. Hence, the 5 gallon bucket and the 15 gallon pool, the family of 5 in a village of 100, etc. Of course, those statistics are about all resources, not just water, but you get the idea.

So it seems like it would have been pretty obvious to the rich folks in this story, and that they’d probably have done something about it long before people began to die…and right you may be. Or maybe the village would have outcast the rich family before it got to be a problem. Our problem is that we are so far away from the other side of the village, and also that we have so much power. We never have to be around those who can’t get enough water, we never have to see the destruction we cause by raping the planet, we never have to see landfills if we’ve got enough wealth, and we never have to worry about a country of starving people setting us right because they’re not powerful enough.

So that’s the problem. The answer is different for everyone, and definitely doesn’t always include dumpster diving! But the Christian call (and the calls of other faiths) is to love God, love others and to seek justice throughout the land. We simply have to care about our nation’s overconsumption and all the ways in which that relates to so many millions having so little, and each person needs to decide what they’re going to do about it.



  1. […] about it that we will live in a way that speaks loudly against it. Like I illustrated in the story I wrote, our nation comprises around 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume around 30% […]

    Pingback by Why we dumpster dive and recycle, Part 3 « Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog — February 19, 2008 @ 4:08 am | Reply

  2. Just did a search on freeganism to help with our recipe diary of food we’ve prepared on the behalf of dumpster diving and came across your site. Wanted to say: thanks for speaking boldly about these issues and representing Christ in such a beautiful way. We hope you continue to find living simply and with little impact on the earth is a blessing unto you and those you are in community with.

    Grace and Peace
    Mike and Melissa

    P.S. We are huge Settler’s of Catan fans! If you lived nearer to Laramie, Wy we’d invite you over! Enjoy the game and go for the wheat…maybe (this is Melissa typing and I’m mostly clueless to Settler’s.)

    Comment by Melissa and Mike — September 17, 2009 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

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