Friday, August 12, 2011


Twelve-step programs have a saying that crops up over and over again--the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. This brings to mind the way we've lived for the last many years.

Our society has again and again placed its faith in the almighty dollar, and in a 'more is better' mantra for life that has continually let us down. And while our faith has always been repaid with further degradation of what we claim to hold dear, we continue to rely upon those good old samolians.

When the promise was that the 'superstore' would get everyone more good stuff for less money, what we got instead was the death of main street commerce, a lot of cheap disposable junk, and the wholesale shipment of manufacturing out of the US. Now, we're told that the way it used to be, say, when I was a kid, where people made stuff in the US and small merchants sold it to people, isn't actually possible and would kill our economy.

When we were going to 'feed the world' with commoditized farming, we got a rural rat race where, to make less money each year, farmers have to plant more acres of fewer types of genetically enegineered crops, spray with more chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, treat genetically weak animals with more and more drugs to fend off worse and worse diseases, and then sell for near nothing to compete with the factory farms. Meanwhile, last I checked, there are still lots of hungry people in the world, while people in the US and some other industrialized countries get fatter and fatter eating overprocessed junk made from those cheap commodity crops , and we still manage to waste enough food to feed most of the rest of the world. And we're told that the way it used to be, when small farmers grew lots of different types of crops and made enough money doing it to live on--well, that's not actually possible--can't be done.

After the 'energy crisis' of the 1970s, we scoffed at the idea of insulation and solar panels and wearing a sweater instead of turning up the heat in the winter. We ignored the need for non-fossil fuel and instead worshipped at the altar of bigger, fancier cars and ignoring the reality of dwindling resources. We've gotten higher gas prices, unending wars to protect our 'interests' in the oil producing regions, and an economy teetering on the brink at every meeting of OPEC. We've recently insisted that our treatment of the earth is having no effect on our environment, and we're reaping record heat waves, storms of previously unthought of proportions, droughts, and famines. And we're told that the way it used to be, where not everyone needed a car for everything, families shared one car, and people walked to town centers and took mass transit--that's not possible.

If I had unlimited space, I could go on--the list of things sacrificed in our worship of money includes community, education, health, and many more.

So, aside from showing us to be really clueless for a really long time, what do these events have in common? First, they gave us more of stuff that we really didn't need more of, but someone convinced us we do. And second, in doing so, they took money and power from regular, hard-working people--the main street merchant, the small farmer, or the consumer--and gave it instead to the larger, richer and more powerful companies.

HMMMMM. Sounds like maybe we should get a grip. In writing these posts, I usually end with something that I can think of that I can do, or you can do, to fix stuff. In this case, the answer isn't so simple. I suppose it can't hurt to shop a lot less at the superstore and more at local merchants. If any of you are farmers, it couldn't hurt to plant a more diverse crop of non-gmo plants and for us consumers, we could start to shop for those items that aren't cheaply made processed imitation food. But in reality, what really has to happen is we have to start thinking differently. We need to remember that it is 'possible' to do things differently--it's just not possible to do them differently and get the same result. But that's ok--the result we've got is pretty well sucking.

We need a spiritual modification where we get realistic about how much we need, and grateful about how much we have. We need to learn the word "enough." We need to unlearn most applications of the word "more." We need to start being happy with what we've got, because in America, nearly all of us have more than we actually require, and a whole lot more than most of the other people in the world. Such an awakening is a fairly tall order for a blog post--but who knows?

Or, I suppose we can keep doing the same thing, and expect that somehow, some way, we're going to get a better result this time. And denial is a river in Egypt.

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