Monday, November 29, 2004

Eating garbage, literally

What's the worst possible future you can imagine for your child? Those of us with children with special needs, especially diagnoses like fetal alcohol syndrome that render the future particularly uncertain, probably worry about incarceration or institutionalization most, but something like a life of homelessness, reduced to getting food out of dumpsters, would also rate high on the list. So I was ... amused? horrified? ... to read in the local paper today about a group of young people who dine out of trash bins as a political statement about the wasteful nature of America's consumer economy. Freegans, as they call themselves, even have their own website (do they sneak around gathering other people's unused Internet access minutes?), on which they recommend dumpster diving and squatting in abandoned buildings as ways of nobly rejecting consumerism and spotlighting wastefulness. And I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old and conservative and narrow-minded, but this sounds to me like the kind of thing that's fun and self-righteously satisfying only if you don't really need to do it — when you're more interested in irritating people than really changing the world. What I do know, though, is that if I were one of those kids' mothers, I'd be remembering every time they didn't clean their plates growing up, and mentioning it every chance I could. You want to talk about wasteful? Think how much spinach you threw away!

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