Last week I passed a billboard for a convenience store chain. (I wanted a photo of it, but since it was along a highway, and I was driving, I didn’t get one.) The image consisted almost entirely of beverage bottles and read:
“Are 500+ beverage options excessive?”
The implication, of course, is that excess is a good thing, and that this store has whatever you might like to satisfy your thirst. (Except alcohol. This is Pennsylvania, people.)
This isn’t a screed against convenience stores. (The advertiser in this case is Sheetz, which I happen to love.) I like to go into a store and find what I’m looking for. Frankly, it’s sometimes tough to find my favorite. But something about that billboard stopped me in my tracks. (Mentally. I didn’t brake on the highway.)
Why do we need so many options? Excessive options aren’t limited to bottled drinks. It’s canned soup, cereal, disposable razors, yogurt, etc. The number of choices can be paralyzing. For me, the selections either result in my irritation or my apathy.
And here we are with 500 beverages at a corner store while in other parts of the world, clean water is a luxury.
I don’t have an easy solution. There’s nothing inherently evil about lots of different drinks. And I’ll admit to being ignorant as to why places still do not have easy access to safe drinking water. I’ve heard of initiatives like Water for Life, but that’s it.
But the billboard did spark an idea. One that will require (a small) sacrifice and and exercise in solidarity. For Lent this year, I’ll be giving up all drinks but water and unsweetened tea. Goodbye for a while juice, milk, and alcohol. I’m still on the fence about whether to give up the unsweetened, flavored seltzer water I enjoy. (The thought of giving it up makes me wince, so I probably should.)
It won’t make the drink choices at the store less overwhelming. It won’t bring clean water to where it’s needed. But it will make me more mindful of our abundance and of those who have so little.
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