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America Loses Touch With Its Roots: A Moment With Bill Reflection
THE LOSS OF VIRGINITY
The earliest of settlers understood this truth although in fact the concept of consumerism had not be invented yet. Only time and the hard, undeniable weight of history have proven it to be so.
In those years, settlements were established. Farmers staked out their claim, shops were opened, small businesses were begun, and there was an inter-connected feeling to it all. The tillers of the soil raised crops for their family, and excess was sold to the townsfolk. Store owners only carried staples that could not be produced on the farms, and often times those staples were bartered for so that there was an equal sharing of needs between farmer and merchant.
The land was an integral part of the whole equation, the giver of life and the sustainer of an economy. There was a marriage of sorts between man and land, and in the early years the marriage was good and beneficial to all.
The Industrial Revolution changed it all of course. More and more land was needed for raw materials to feed the machines and also to feed the insatiable appetite for produced goods. What man did not have could be made by machines, and that symbiotic partnership of man and land began to unravel. The importance of land was measured by how large a building it would hold or how many metric tons of ore could be taken from it.
Meanwhile, on the farm, the sacred trust was broken, and the natural balance of life began to tilt in a dangerous direction.
FAST FORWARDING THROUGH HISTORY
More and more people meant more and more demand, and the small family farms grew in size, hired workers, produced more, tossed aside the natural and healthy ways of farming and embraced the concept of more is better. More land was plowed, more land planted and more demand raised, for population was growing at an astonishing rate, and foreign nations were hungry, so bigger machines were needed and workers laid off as one machine did the work of eighty human beings, and a dizzying amount of herbicides were used and then genetic mutations created, all in the name of production my friends, production.
Today it’s all about agribusiness, not farming, and most farms are owned by huge conglomerates whose corporate members wouldn’t know a plow if they tripped over one but who do, in fact, control the prices of everything you eat, from soybeans to tomatoes to prime beef.
Farmers who do not recognize a plow…is it possible?
And here we are today in the year of our Lord, 2013, and that symbiotic relationship between consumer and producer is gone. Over 300 million people in the United States and 99.5% of them produce nothing, but consume they do, and their appetite for consumption has no limits.
So what’s the problem you ask?
Do you really not see the problem?
THE ANSWER MY FRIENDS
In 1975 William Rood, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, reported that some of the largest conservation organizations owned stock in corporations notorious for their destructiveness and indifference towards the environment. The Sierra Club, long a bastion for the good environmental fight, owned huge blocks of stocks in Exxon, General Motors, Tenneco, steel companies and strip-mining companies.
As you might expect, this revelation proved quite embarrassing for the Sierra Club, and they quickly announced that their investment policies would be reviewed and changed to be more in keeping with their environmental beliefs.
All well and good….or is it? Citizens of this fine country were shocked when the news first broke but really, should they have been shocked? Wasn’t the Sierra Club just doing what most Americans do, namely say one thing but do the opposite?
Let’s be honest: we are a nation of users, or consumers if you will. We decry the loss of natural habitat as strip-mining continues and yet each household needs more natural resources to maintain our lifestyles. We drive to a protest meeting in our SUVs and we dam more rivers to produce more lights for our cities. We use, we use and we use some more, all the while wondering what happened to the lifestyle of long ago when times were simpler and a man did not have to work fifty hours to make forty hours of wages to fall deeper in debt.
It is insanity and we are the fuel of a moral fire that rages out of control.
Our land is poisoned….our water is poisoned….our air is poisoned….our food is poisoned…..and we demand more and keep right on doing that which has caused it all.
Interesting video on overpopulation
THE ROOTS ARE GONE
There is pride in producing something of value. There is pride in working intimately with the Earth and finding sustenance from the rich, dark soil, of working in partnership with this life-giving land.
That pride is disappearing in America.
There is no ownership in our work and no consequences for our actions, and pride is a five-letter word that refers to a time and place of long ago.
We use and we use, and we take and we take, and this is only just the beginning. In 1975 there were 3.1 billion people on this planet; today there are 7 billion and just for a moment, consider how many will be here when your children are adults and they all, every damn one of them, want more and more and more.
But that’s not our problem, right? What happens twenty years from now is someone else’s problem, right? It’s live for today, baby, and grab up whatever you can carry, and I’ve got mine and to hell with you, and…..
Do you know what the definition of consumerism is? Consumerism is:
“ a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts.”
The central point is not that we seem to have an unending need for more goods; the point is that we have no ownership in the act of consuming. We are just eating machines, or using machines, or consuming machines, whichever way you choose to describe it. We work our jobs, make our money, spend our money and, like rats in a maze, sense that there is a way out but are totally clueless where we can find the exit sign.
When the majority of people in a country are consumers they are, by the very nature of economics, at the mercy of the producers. Do we not see the truth of that statement in today's society?
There must be something more to life…right? Right?
Join me for A Moment With Bill on my blog
- A Moment With Bill | Reflections about life
Reflections about life (by Billybuc)
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
My parents were hard-working people, survivors of the Great Depression. Their parents were Iowa corn farmers, hard-working people in their own right who lost their farms during the 1930’s and in the process lost a part of themselves. From the farm they went to factories, and as the economy slowly improved they became consumers and joined the rest of Americans in the never-ending quest for more….but….I never saw them smile the way I saw them smile in old pictures when Grandpa was plowing the land and harvesting the crops.
I was raised by a mother and father who wanted me to have a better life than they did. They were convinced that I needed to attend college and learn the ways of the economy, and armed with that knowledge I could go out into the world and be happier functioning as an integral part of the economic machine.
And I tried. Lord knows I tried, but my parents, God bless their souls, had it all wrong. Happiness does not come from consumption; happiness is derived from production and the warm fuzzies that are a natural by-product of making something of value.
Today I am a writer. I don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out, but I am happy because I am producing the written word and there is great value in my production. I am creating beauty and I am creating something that will last a lifetime. I am dipping my hands into the soil, and I am caring for the deep, dark brown dirt, and the crops I grow will feed generations long after I am gone.
I go to bed at night and I understand all too well what my grandparents must have understood before times turned bad for them and their farms became faded memories. I understand today that man can find no pride in endless consuming. It is only in the production of something of intrinsic value that a soul can truly be fed.
THERE IS HOPE
I see signs today of a small revolution. I see community gardens being created, and I see more people moving away from blatant consumerism and understanding that they are just a part of a bigger picture. I see people who understand their part in this ridiculous and debased overuse of our planet, and I see them trying to change. Small groups of course, but it is at least a start, and a start is enough for me to believe that just possibly there is hope for our children and our grandchildren.
Look not to your governments for a change in the economic landscape. Look not to the corporations for needed change. No, we need to look at ourselves and change our part in it all.
The search for a “better life” begins inside us all. It is a bitter pill to swallow, the knowledge that we have had a part in this ugliness, but it is a pill that must be swallowed if we are to ever return to our roots and once again enjoy that symbiotic balance between consumption and production.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”