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number 6


From the UN Mailbag
by Eugene Hyramson

I would like to propose a generalized means with which, in my mind, could potentially help to alleviate the desolation of body and spirit that your organization has sworn to stamp out. You’ll no doubt view this piece as a disjointed collection of naïve meanderings on the part of a hapless teenager, and I’ve considered this. It is precisely because of its simplicity that I see the essay’s worth.

As I’ve just alluded to, I’m young and naïve. I’m always thinking of ways to save the entire world in grand revolutionary terms. To be a good revolutionary, one needs to be a logical zealot, proceeding from one goal to the next, doing whatever it takes to get to each one. Maybe it’s just sentimentality on my part but I’m not willing to see things in utilitarian terms. It seems to me that they call them revolutions because eventually you end up in the same place from which you started. Pondering this has lent me new appreciation of a phrase seen by many as an out of style cliché: think globally, act locally. When one focuses on their own little corner of the world without losing sight of the rest of it, the task ahead doesn’t loom nearly as ominously.

When I think in global terms about the problems facing us, I think about oil; this house of cards upon which Atlas has inexplicably balanced the world. If our supply of fossil fuels were suddenly exhausted, the gears of automation would grind to a screeching halt. Visualizing this in local terms, I see my banana supply being cut off. Bananas matter a lot to me, as I’m a strict vegetarian, and I have to get protein from an ashy, flavorless concoction that the bananas help to make palatable. I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, which is quite ironic considering the fact that it’s more than likely my bananas were picked by a thirteen-year-old girl in Ecuador who’s since fallen ill from pesticides. You might think that I’m getting off track here. I’m simply trying to illustrate the interconnectedness of it all.

Taking what I’ve just said into account, I think it's necessary to do whatever we can to make whatever community we live in sustainable, starting with some sort of community garden project.

I don’t envision one centralized garden that the entire city would rely on. What I see instead is many gardens, in backyards, on rooftops. Everybody would tend to their own garden, at least at first, and then each neighborhood would band together, maybe once a week to determine what to do the surplus. Decentralization is philosophy behind this endeavor. It's an ethic that could spread to other societal institutions. People relying on each other rather than a centralized authority would no doubt promote communitarian values; neighbors coming together, becoming less isolated from one another, being not afraid.

Communities need to be able to support themselves if they are to survive. At one point I looked forward to a time in my life when I’d mature and my mind would become filled with other, more elaborate ways of fixing things. Now I believe it's important that solutions not be complicated. If they were, why would anybody bother to take the time out of their busy schedules to work on them?

Perhaps some sympathetic character in a position of influence will come to read this. Do you want to wake up one day to find your food supply dwindling? Would you like your children to live in a world like that?

We must be able to sustain ourselves.

Eugene Hyramson is a pseudonymn of a kid who wrote this for a UN contest, hoping to win a trip to New York. He can be reached at eugeneflorissant AT yahoo DOT com.

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