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Open Letter to the ACMQVQ

Cornelis de Vos. Allegory of Earth.
(Cornelis de Vos. Allegory of Earth. Source)

Good day,

This letter is a follow-up on the original e-mail I sent you on March 21, 2004.

According to your website www.acmqvq.com [broken link], the ACMQVQ or «l'Action des Citoyens pour le Maintien de la Qualité de Vie à Québec» is a non-profit association of citizens, whose objectives are: to promote conditions insuring the quality of life in Quebec; to prevent the implementation of agricultural, industrial, commercial or municipal activities that could harm the quality of water, air, soil, or the health of citizens; and finally to insure the monitoring of activities that could degrade the quality of life of all citizens. I admire this, and I strongly encourage you to continue to "fight the good fight"!

What worries me is that your website seems to implicitly reduce "quality of life" to a purely material concept. "Quality of life" is presented as being mostly pure water, clean air, quiet neighborhoods, etc. But isn't quality of life more than just purely material conditions?

It appears to me that one of the most toxic wastes currently polluting our society is "Materialism". Our Quality of life is threatened by Materialism as much, if not more, than by heavy metals in our drinking water, or carbon monoxide in our air, etc.

Let's try to list some of these "spiritual" threats to our quality of life:

1) Some radio programs (often loudly shoved down our ears in public waiting areas) that ooze a toxic muck composed of foul language, prejudices, commercialism, etc.

2) Display racks (often unavoidable because they are in grocery store waiting lines) that spill out superficial magazines, where women are often presented as "dieting machines obsessed with sex and interior decoration".

3) Buildings littered with graffitis that are often not only ugly, but sometimes also carry a message filled with hatred, ignorance, laziness, etc.

4) Topless bars that spew sexism into our atmosphere, encouraging men to treat women as simple objects.

Unfortunately, this list is probably much longer.

I'm not a pollution expert, either physical or spiritual, but it seems quite likely to me that spiritual pollution can be an indirect cause of physical pollution. Why buy huge SUVs, if not out of envy of our neighbors? Why cut down the Tropical Rain Forests, if not out of avarice? Why ignore the threat of Climate Change, if not out of laziness? Why consider ourselves unaccountable to the Third World, if not out of pride? And so on...

What should you do about this? Good question! But I have a few suggestions concerning your web site:

1) Step one: don't underestimate your power! When faced with the immense task that is before us, we can be discouraged and think that Materialism has already won. This is false! We must not under-estimate the power of Education, and with your web site you have the possibility to "Think globally, but educate locally".

2) Speak out against spiritual pollution. You might clearly state in some obvious location on your site that "Quality of Life" involves more than just physical things like clean air and pure water, that Quality of Life also has a spiritual aspect. You might give a few examples of spiritual pollution.

3) If you voluntarily limit yourselves to material pollution, indicate it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an association that limits itself to defending the material aspects of our quality of life. We can't do everything, and limiting ourselves is one of the best recipes for success! But maybe you should then say so clearly on your site.

4) Support those who fight against spiritual pollution. You might add a page of links pointing to associations that fight against spiritual pollution. Even if the page is empty at first, at least it would send an educational message to people who visit your site: "Spiritual pollution is bad too, and we all need to work together to fight it".

Thank you very much!

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