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Even amidst all this despair and heartache and hardship, I have to say the economic crisis is a good thing. I believe this because this unusual crisis has forced or allowed (depending on your perception) us to look at the world in new ways.

A few weeks back Starbucks announced that it would only brew decaffeinated coffee on-demand after noon. Previously the company brewed fresh coffee every half-hour. It takes about 4 minutes to brew a pot of coffee. By only brewing decaffeinated coffee when requested, the company expects to save $400 million dollars within the next 6 months.

Some people heard this and despaired over another example of how our economy is collapsing. I read this and was outraged! I was outraged at the waste of resources literally going down the drain everyday, just for the luxury of saving potential customers four minutes. And that waste reminded me of other prepared food companies who waste untold tons of foods by throwing out what is not sold. It’s true there are great organizations like Second Harvest but, I’d hazard, they do not capture even one-half the food that’s prepared but never sold.

Another example of our changed perspective is the loosening of standards regarding what is advertised. I read that more broadcasters are allowing ads from “hard” liquor companies where before, when more money was available, those types of advertisers were refused on “moral” grounds.

These two examples remind me that the word crisis is translated in Chinese by two characters meaning “dangerous opportunity”. The economic crisis puts us at a point of “dangerous opportunity”. If we do not adapt, if we do not change, we will find ourselves clinging to ideals and processes that are no longer viable and in effect, going down with a sinking ship.

On the other hand, we can use this unusual time to choose things that bring us into better harmony with our planet by being more conservative about our use of resources. We can stop brewing decaffeinated coffee when there is no demand for it. We can grow some vegetables rather than purchasing veggies that have traveled hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles to reach our plates. And, we can also use this opportunity to re-evaluate things we would never have considered when money flowed copiously.

Here are three choices we might now make.

1) Legalize (and thereby regulate and tax) prostitution. I am a woman and do not endorse the exploitation of women under any circumstances. Rather than penalizing the practice, let’s legalize it and put in safety nets so the women (and men) are made as safe as possible and we are in a better position to prevent the exploitation of children through prostitution.

2) Legalize (and thereby regulate and tax) marijuana. Just that one thing opens a world of ecologically-sound and renewable products like hemp-based papers, fabrics and furniture. If the resistance to marijuana were about preventing access mind-altering substances, then we should ban a whole list of ingestibles including chocolate, cheese, sugar, coffee and alcohol.

3) Publicly and regularly recommend that people eat less meat, not stop eating meat, just reduce our consumption of this extremely resource-intensive product. The meat industry will surely cry “foul!” but the health of the country will improve and we will save money through having better health.

These are frightening times. Very few people like change and right now, things are changing quickly and dramatically. But within these changes are opportunities for us to make better choices, choices that evolve our spirits and our world.

Quote: Again and again over the years you’re pushed to a brink that challenges you to either rise to the occasion or else surrender to demoralizing chaos…Seeded inside each of these personal turning points is the crux of the evolving global apocalypse: You get to choose whether you’ll adjust by taking a path that keeps you aligned with the values of the dying world or else a path that helps you resonate with what’s being born. In effect, you get to vote, with your entire life for which aspect of the apocalypse you want to predominate. -Rob Brezny