I started answering Caroline's very nice comment on the previous post; it got longer; and longer- so I finally realized it would be best dealt with here.
She said; "I don't know how we're going to teach our kids to see those limits other than by living in a way that shows sensitivity to the fact that there isn't infinite amounts of anything."
Teach the kids. That's absolutely one of the most important things we need to focus on. There's an awful lot of older folks who will never learn; never understand, never change. It's the kids.
And thinking about "how", and how this can relate to the real world (ie. NOT little houses in the woods, but Little Tiny Apartments In The Incredibly Huge City) - I found myself starting to tell this story. It does turn out relevant, I think.
Aeons ago, my son Beelar was asked as a school exercise to "write down your favorite food recipe". This had to be 3rd grade, I think. An assignment teaching both handwriting, and the beginnings of composition, and story telling.
We got called in to talk to the Principal about it. No, really- the teachers were in an uproar about his recipe/essay.
Man, I wish I had a copy of it- but it happened back before computers. Paper disappears; if it's in the computer, I can find it.
He chose "Spaghetti" as his recipe. Ok, how weird can that be? Then he started off: "First, you plant the tomatoes..."
You have to understand, he was UTTERLY serious; not a bit of smart mouth going on. This was his answer- this is how you make spaghetti.
The part that really freaked the teachers out though, was when he got to "Then, you add some ground Bambi..."
Ok, now THAT was smartmouthing; he knew that "regular folks" don't talk about ground venison that way. But WE did. Not in any attempt to be callous- we still loved the lovable parts of the movie; and deer- but in an attempt to be HONEST about what we were doing. We're eating deer. Right here, in the spaghetti; not hiding the fact from the kids. You have to shoot the deer- and gut it, and butcher it, and store it- to get this. All wrapped up in that wiseacre "ground Bambi".
The teachers really didn't know what to make of this; was our child being warped? Abused? What the heck?
We managed to convince them the boy was not in danger; and not really warped- just with a different viewpoint; but it took some fancy dancing, and put us on the FBI's permanent "Watch" list, I think.
He KNEW what goes into spaghetti. You plant tomatoes; and weed them; and can them; and you kill animals; and butcher them. He knew because he'd seen it; and helped do it. I really don't think he can see a can of tomatoes on the shelf at Walmart without seeing also.... the tomato plant- in Florida- the can, on a truck... etc. Likewise with the package of hamburger.
How is this relevant to the City? I'm not suggesting you should go out and shoot pigeons, or squirrels, for your soup- just a bit impractical, never mind the legalities.
But even in the City- you have a windowsill. It can grow SOME of what goes in to your food. One pepper plant? One tomato plant? A pot of sage, thyme, oregano- chives?
Each child can have their own- it's their job to care for it, water it, grow it, harvest it- add it to the ... pizza. You can have a special meal where most of ingredients come from the window; and the family shares- harvest; cooking, sharing.
They'll start to get the idea. Wow; just growing the peppers was a LOT of work. Hm... You can nudge them into understanding a little more.
Of course, in the burbs, it's easier. 10 tomato plants- and canning the crop. You DON'T have to do industrial quantities. What you DO want to do is get the kids INVOLVED - on a comfortable level. Actually, my own father having grown up on a truck farm, he always planted vast food gardens, and dragooned the kids into "working" in them. I hated it. He was astonished when I started planting my own; me too. I think it's possible to get kids involved without making it into something to be avoided.
This kind of thing can be done in school, too; get the 4th grade to grow their own spaghetti/pizza/soup. (I think we can let them buy the pasta, or flour, don't you? Maybe the High School kids can mill their own flour...)
It's an old situation; and an old answer. Look in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "Farmer Boy". Chapter 16, "Independence Day". Almanzo asks his father for a nickel (5¢) - because the other boys dare him to- they don't think his father will, since boys rarely had money at all. His father is talking to an adult friend- they're amazed at this forward child. "What for?" his father says. Almanzo stutters out a story about needing to buy lemonade... Father is not dumb, and sees more of what's really going on. He pulls out - not a nickel; but a half dollar; 50¢; ten times as much. Then he makes Almanzo answer a long series of questions- for the benefit of the adult friend. "You know how to grow potatoes, son? What do you do first?" Almanzo knows; he's been helping grow potatoes since forever, and he actually loves it. It takes all year- including storage, selecting/preparing the seed; plowing, planting, weeding, digging, sorting, hauling, back to storing- the selling- and what is a bushel of potatoes worth? Hauled in to town? Half a dollar. Father gives Almanzo the entire 50¢, to do with as he likes. As long as he understands- all the work, the whole year long, that went into a bushel of potatoes, is in that half dollar.
Almanzo gets it.
But only because- he knows what good work is; and what it's worth.
There is a connection between understanding work, and understanding limits. If what you have is the result of your own work- it IS limited. You can't work to an infinite extent- it will kill you to try. Eventually the connection comes- no one else can work "infinitely" either. Everything has limits- you can know this in your bones.
But not if all you've ever done is plug in a toy.
We CAN give that comprehension to our kids; but in this world, you have to make the effort to give it to them. Otherwise, it's TV and video. And if you haven't seen No Impact Man's post today, that's where you should go next, because he clearly "gets it."