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Monday, July 1, 2013
Nothing like a good political rant to purge the soul. A friend lives in the prettiest part of our county at the edge of a mountain. A peaceful stream, trickling alongside an artfully decorated modest house, provides freshwater cress. A friendly dog greets visitors; horses run in adjoining fields and woods. Lots of us moved to places like this to experience idyllic country life.
But on the edge of Lexington, across from sounds of soccer balls being kicked at Jordan’s Point Park and occasional wild student parties down the road, I still wonder about that “good life.” What soured my taste for living out in the country? Realizing how many more tools, vehicles and really good stuff, all with price tags, are required to live that simple country life.
Our age abounds with paradox. On one hand, we’re told science will solve issues of energy efficiency and dwindling resources. On the other hand, a neat little paperback suggests 50 ways to save the planet. Another friend works helping a small college become more energy efficient. But I can’t help but wonder whether in a consumer society, such as ours, if saving energy is desired. It’s all about creating desire for bigger, better, newer, more.
Then there’s basics, food and water. We’re mostly aware of health problems related to over consumption of fast, cheap, abundant, tasty, engineered food. But who, in current consumer society, really wants us to eat less, or simpler? Less or simpler threatens stock values of corporate food companies many invest in and good-paying food industry jobs.
We should thank overweight folks for eating more than their share. Praise TV executives who help foster a sedentary lifestyle where clever commercials are consumed, along with yummy snacks, and talk show guests explain how they overcame addiction. The huge diet industry would not exist if we were not first fattened up and encouraged to become sedentary. Simpler anything, in current consumer society, puts too many smart and good folks out of work.
Water? In childhood I drank from questionable “springs.” There was plenty of cheap, sweet soda around, but no such thing as bottled water. Years later, I collect discarded water plastics on hikes and float trips, as if folks go out of their way to drink name-brand water in natural settings.
In a consumer culture, water not from a tap or plastic container better not be clean enough to drink or swim in. Imagine the millions and billions of dollars lost and jobs gone if our lakes, rivers, streams are actually too clean. We should thank good consumers throwing water containers around; they’re reminders of how dangerous not-in-a-container water can be to our health in a throw-away consumer society.
I’ve been putting Quaker “War Is Not The Answer” bumper stickers on a vehicle for years, then watched young friends attempt enlistment into the military as if it’s still the best way to get schooling, challenge, discipline, adventure, benefits. “Join the Army, that would straighten him out!” always got heads nodding in agreement.
Yet we also know military might fueled by technology and exaggerated by media fear has grown to absurd magnitude. Why even recruit soldiers when missiles launch from remote locations, drones bomb city infrastructure?
Why complain that too much money goes into bank accounts of the rich? How much more energy, money and lives went, and continue to go, to blow stuff up on the other side of the Earth in order to create peace? War is still good business, generates high-paying jobs, teaches a kind of mindless discipline many of us thrive on, for a while, at least, in the current materialist, market-driven consumer system.
Mental health, depression, anxiety, lost youth, addictions? How could any sane person not get a little out of mind considering this odd consumer culture we’re bound to. But there’s still country life. Maybe, still time to get ourselves back to the garden.
Paradox, one definition: a situation, person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
Weather JournalEarly mix, then ice storm Sunday