They say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but what if it is broke? Then, of course, you replace it. That is what I have done all week.
It started when my gas stovetop malfunctioned and even my handy husband could not fix it. First, the electric starter failed then the gas knob stuck. I had been lighting my stove with matches for months but eventually it became unusable – and it is only four years old! What ever happened to craftsmanship and durability?
It should tell you something about me that I lived three months without a functioning stovetop and didn’t even miss it. I only decided to replace it because Thanksgiving was looming and I am hosting.
The same week I finally bit the bullet and resentfully invested in a replacement, a cascade of malfunctions followed. My printer quit working. My fancy farmhouse sink sprayer sprung a leak. My Kitchen Aid mixer stopped mixing and my instant hot water dispenser is no longer dispensing. Besides being broken, they all have one more thing in common – they are all only four years old.
Now that I think about it, we replaced our grill this summer and it couldn’t have been much older. Is that the best American manufacturing can do? What will be next? My refrigerator? My washer and dryer? Surely not my waffle maker?
Does nothing last anymore? My grandmother had the same appliances my entire lifetime, if not hers. In fact, she rarely replaced anything. Year after year, I drank from the same Tupperware cups, sat on the same gold couch, and grabbed a soda out of the same green refrigerator. Not only did things last longer, she found a way to reuse everything before recycling was a thing.
My grandparents were part of a generation that knew what it was like to do without. They grew up in the depression years. If you didn’t use and reuse, you went without. And even then, you often went without. They had a conservation mindset that went with them their entire lives and yielded a life of enough for them and some to share.
I was raised in a disposable generation embracing paper plates and throw away razors. They would be appalled at all the waste, but it simply paved the way to my love of k-cups and single use contact lenses. I fear now we have arrived at the era of disposable appliances. It would be the next step for us who have come to love the disposable, replaceable and temporary. Perhaps we are simply getting what we want – a reason to throw away the less new for newer new. There is really no reason for a stove or faucet that lasts 20 years when HGTV is going to convince us that they need updating every four years.
It could be a case of consumers reaping what we sow. Such a dynamic is described in the Bible.
“Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
As surely as this principle is at work in the mundane, it is at work in the sacred. We would do well to give heed to what we are sowing or we may not like the harvest that follows.
Kim Wier is an author and speaker, and hosts a weekly radio talk program on KSBJ in Houston.