Editorial – A Light in the Darkness

In this issue’s ?Green Light,? I highlighted the debate over compact fluorescent bulbs (?CFLs?) and their effect on electromagnetic fields. Although the information’s been out there for some time, it only came to my attention this week.

I’m intrigued to learn about the ?dirty electricity? phenomenon. I’m awed at how little we really do know about the universe. I’m interested in the possibilities of LED bulbs. Yet a part of me feels angry, disappointed, cheated.

Like millions of other homeowners, we jumped on the CFL bandwagon a few years back. We wanted to conserve energy and save money. We wanted to protect our family and our planet. And we didn’t go into it blind; we did a little digging, all of which turned up only the highest praise for CFLs.

Yet somehow, we?and everyone else along for the ride?were duped. Or at least, the research seems to suggest it. Whether it was lack of information, insufficient studies, or just a case of playing with technology we really didn’t understand, the CFL craze resulted in many people making choices they thought were for the best?only to find out they may have been wrong.

I shouldn’t be surprised. How many other times has this happened? Good-bad-better and even good-bad-good and back to bad again are constantly occurring back-to-back at a dizzying speed. What about butter versus margarine? Or the question of fats, good, bad or otherwise? Carbs. Bottled water. Job applications. Studying. Vaccines. Even ideologies. Everything’s up for change. The list goes on and on.

The scary thing is that we barely notice this happening. Without batting an eye, we move on to the next trend, the next option, the new solution. Why?

The easy answer would be that perhaps we feel that there’s safety in community. But it may be deeper than that.

I like to think we all have a bit of the idealist in us. We want to do good for ourselves, our communities, and our planet. But let’s face it: with the hustle and bustle of modern life, we find ourselves too busy, too tired, or too distracted to do something significant.

So we settle on small signs. Manageable things. Actions that don’t require too much of a commitment, but allow us to give ourselves the proverbial pat on the back for a deed well done.

We want to protect our planet, so we buy the right kind of bulbs. It’s a symbol that we’re doing good. Never mind that we cheerfully waste energy in other manners, or drive our gas guzzler much more than we need. The environmentally-friendly bulbs are a tangible reflection of our involvement, of the ?fact? that we’re doing our part.

In fact, we prefer to exercise our ideology from a comfortable distance. And any easy route to such self-fulfillment is welcomed with open arms. Hence the bandwagon phenomenon, and the constant latching on to and letting go of trends in just about every area of our lives.

Is this a bad thing? Not entirely. If we act hypocritically, I think we do so unconsciously. We truly do believe that we’re making choices that are for the best interests of ourselves, our families, and the world. And every little bit does make a difference.

But when we make these decisions to improve our health or reduce pollution, for example, we need to take one more step. We need to ask ourselves just why we’re doing what we’re doing. How serious are we about, say, conserving energy? Serious enough to make, and continue making, lifestyle changes? Or just interested enough to slap a Band-Aid on the problem and hope it goes away?

So after I finish researching CFL bulbs, I’ll have some decisions to make. I want to do the right thing, and if switching to LEDs is necessary, It’s an easy solution. But hopefully, when I take down my CFLs and reach for the new package of LEDs, I’ll give a little more consideration to the deeper meaning of my actions?and take that with me as I live out my life under the glow of my new light bulbs.