Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published June 5, 2002. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
I had almost finished rolling my hair when I heard a strange buzz in my curling iron. The little red light by the “on” button went off. Within seconds, the rod became cold.
I pulled the plug, reinserted it and pushed the red button.
Tossing it toward the trash can, I grumbled that yet another $20 investment had gone kaput.
I haven’t kept count of the number of curling irons, shavers, hairdryers and other small appliances I’ve thrown away over the years.
Every time it happens, I feel the same anger at the realization that everything we buy — from electric can openers to cars — has been designed with what manufacturers call “planned obsolescence.” That means they are made to fall apart so we will have to discard them before too long and buy new ones.
What a waste.
We have become a throwaway generation. We buy things, knowing they won’t last long. We know landfills won’t last forever, but we keep throwing stuff into them away.
I wonder if our values are going in the same direction.
Do we often put on truth, honor, courage, faith or integrity only when one or the other suits our best interests?
Long-term values such as these aren’t depicted on TV screens much these days. Not one of the sitcoms or soap operas seems to be concerned about the road ahead. It’s all about living for the pleasures of the moment, never worrying about consequences and making fun of people who believe in moral absolutes.
When products lack real quality, they have to be replaced, and so it is with values.
If we let them go, we will find ourselves settling for some cheap substitutes.
We’ll have to sacrifice quality for quantity and give up faith for false hopes.
When values and virtues become expendable, we’re in real trouble — as a society and as individuals. Those real, honest-to-goodness virtues hold us securely when the cheap counterfeits crumble like rotten wood.
If we are to preserve the quality of values that bring goodness, mercy and justice to this world, it’s up to each of us to guard them carefully.
Someone has said, “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.”
It may be time to rethink our values and look for cracks in our spiritual reservoirs. If we’re letting something slip, now is the time to rein ourselves in. Someone is looking to each of us to set the example. When we let down the standard, we set the stage for someone else to compromise and take another step down the quality scale.
Guarding the quality of our values isn’t easy in an age like this, but it’s worth the effort. If we want values that will last long after we are gone, we have to be willing to work hard to preserve them.
It will happen only when we become more focused on the quality than on the price tag.