A sad tale

A sad tale

Today I feel sad. And so banal it is, you would not believe the cause of my sorrow: my poor phone battery died. And there is no replacement.

I do not know if it had an internal counter that dictated how many times, at the most, it could be recharged. I know that sometimes such strange things are done, but I do not know if this is the case.

What I do know is that my poor phone, which does not know to run without a battery, has ended its life and I have to throw it away; and that makes me sad. And it worries me that the charger, which came along with my poor phone, can also be thrown away, even though it could still work; and this also makes me sad. And ‘m sad too, about the charger I have in the office: it will not be useful anymore. And this rekindles the suffering that I have felt the hundred times I had to tip a hard rectifier (printers, cameras, laptops, modems…), equivalent to the one I had just bought, and which worked as perfectly well as the first day. Because I know that any of the hundred would do a good charger.

I do not like, either, to get rid of the cable that had so often served to keep the calendar on my computer; and that makes me sad. Oh, now I remember, I can also get rid of the charger I had in the car, which had resulted so useful in my travels; and that makes me sadder, if it is still possible.

I am very concerned about the economic and ecological cost that has meant making everything that I had to drive to the tip. And the economic and environmental cost of recycling it, if we are lucky that someone recycles.

And I feel appalled to think that perhaps it comes the day when I will have to throw away my electric car due to a battery that no longer accepts more refills; when I find no spare battery, I will be very sad.

Moreover, despite the trick of the points, I had to pay for my new phone a price which probably triples the cost of manufacturing it. It offers three times more applications than I need: I have not found any other more suitable. Nor have I found the model I bought short over a year ago: it is already outdated. And now I shall apply myself to understand how the new wonder works.

But the creepiest feeling I have is caused by the thought that maybe some child has died in Congo, extracting some coltan just to provide my poor phone with a bit of tantalum. And it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth each time I take it: this feeling strikes back and sticks to my heart.

However, it is unbelievable how easily we could have drastically diminished so many disasters. It would be enough if we could buy the items separately, and, moreover, if they were interchangeable, responding to a required standard. Battery gets damaged? Do not worry; we will sell you another one. Like an AAA battery. Which brand do you like? Do you need another charger for the office? Look, this one is very good, and works for any brand of phone.

It is true, this does not fit with the interests of manufacturers, who have forgotten the social utility of their activity. They are only concerned in increasing sales, even against any social utility, causing wars, carnage, human displacement and nature destruction; and this upsets me deeply, and makes me very sad.

And I can not understand the role of all those politicians, living out of my effort and claiming to be concerned about my pains. And is not that they are too few (between District, Town, County Council, Council, Parliament, Generalitat Government, Senate, Congress, State Government, European Parliament, European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Economic and Social Committee, have I missed one? – they represent thousands of elected government employees, plus many thousands senior officials and other positions of trust). It makes me sad that none of them has spared me my pain. And it distresses me that if they have failed to resolve such a simple thing, how can we believe they will be able to solve the current challenges, as they never get tired of promising? At least, they should have legislated about standards with common sense and not be commanded by multinationals …

But what really makes my heart ache is thinking that the consequences of our way of life, that has created this opulent, poor, insensitive and miserable society, will be harshly paid by my grandchildren and the grandchildren of my grandchildren.

Do you understand now why I feel desolate, embittered, distressed, disconsolate and dismayed? And desperately sad.

Josep Maria Boleda i Rossell

Barcelona, February de 2012 _________________________________

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