Friday, August 9, 2013


Our national politics are completely corrupt; we spend billions upon billions of dollars annually on war machines (over 600 billion USD or 39% of the world's total expenditure); as consumers we are complicit in the manufacture and purchase of untold quantities of plastics that will not decompose but remain forever blights upon our shared earth; the plastics industry is a 400 billion dollar industry and the industry employs more than one million people in the United States alone; plastics have a place in this world and can play an important role in a healthy world, but we all know that a lot of the plastic we produce and consume is a worthless, throw-away commodity and does not contribute to a better world in any way; this means that the health, well-being, and livelihoods of many children in this world are dependent upon income that is drawn from parents who work in the plastics industry, producing worthless and even problematic plastic shit; and this is all very troubling; when innocent lives are yoked to a problematic and even destructive practice, you have systemic ill-health, and we have not even talked about the short-sighted, pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, and nitrogen-based fertilizer intensive agricultural practices employed on an epic scale in this and other countries whose end results are high fructose corn syrup and cheap beef, i.e foods that are making us sick, not to mention our ecosystems.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 15 million square kilometers of plastic debris that is choking marine life in the Pacific ocean, and British Petroleum has already employed a successful PR campaign and made most of the world forget that it was responsible for crippling the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico and seriously endangering the wildlife of that ecosystem, while petty criminals such as marijuana dealers pay comparatively obscene and exorbitant prices; and we are supposed to think that our world is not fucked up and that capital will solve our problems?  And we are supposed to think that rugged individualism and a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-boot-straps mentality will save us?  Good Christ.  Anyone who talks that way has obviously not done much thinking.  

I do not purport to have all the answers, but sometimes I do get tired of living in a world (and especially in a country) that prioritizes work and industry over all else.  It's not as if all the individuals in this country who work long hours actually want to be working those long hours, though I do understand that working long hours does appeal to some.  The truth is that we are all born into a problematic world, and most of us fall in line.  It is probably human nature to fall in line—human life is difficult and the day is only so long, and so falling in line is a natural response to being tired, to understanding that there actually are enormous problems that face our world but feeling too small to fix them, to not giving a shit, to being overwhelmed, to wanting only peace and happiness.  But there are some people out there who cannot find peace and happiness no matter what they do, either because they are concerned about the world or because they are left behind by the peace and happiness machine.  If you were to query every over-worked American and ask him or her if she or he would rather spend more leisure time at home with his or her family, my guess is that most of them would give a resounding, YES, YES, YES I WOULD; and yet this is obviously not what is happening.  It is not happening because work is one of our topmost values in this country.  Work—and by that I mean a certain, culturally agreed upon definition of work—is such a deeply entrenched value in this culture that many of us cannot even entertain questions about its value, let alone imagine alternative worlds and alternative value systems.  One time I questioned the value of work in front of my industrialist uncle, and he called me a socialist and told me that I should move to Serbia where there are three women for every man and where the government would float my basic needs.  This was meant as an insult toward me (and as a response to something I said which he obviously took as an insult to his values), but my goal here is really only to talk about our values and our value system.   The poet Gary Snyder once argued that the trees, rivers, mountains, and air should have representation in congress, and I tend to agree with him.  Why should only the voices of fallible human beings be represented by the world's governments?  How come voice is usually only granted to those with the ability to shout?  Why is there power, and why must we accept arguments that say one system is good because it works better than another system?  The world is truly full of unthinking people who do not ask questions, and unthinking people who do not ask questions are like table grapes to be consumed by the rich.  

I am clearly ranting here, but that's okay.  I am about to put this blog to eternal rest, and I am having my fun; but when I say that I am having my fun, I am by no means retracting my rant.  That being passionate and upset about political and philosophical ideas that do not conform to the mainstream ideology is considered ranting is just another piece of evidence that supports my position.  Our values should be questioned.  Here and there I like to question them and then go about my life.  I am like most people.  I understand that there is only so much I can do.  Yes, I could move to another country where the values more closely match mine.  Yes, I have indeed heard that argument before.  When I hear that argument about moving to another country, I want to ask the people who ask me that question if they support repressive regimes such as the one under Sadam Hussein.  Would they rather I be silent?  Many people do not like difficult discussion about real problems.  Many people do not like to hear that (a) they are not as free as they think they are, and (b) they are complicit in many problems.  I am complicit in many problems, and I know it.  I just wish that there was a way to live a better life than the one I seem capable of living.  This is probably a personal shortcoming of one sort or another.  And yes, I do recognize what a privilege it is to be able to talk and write like this.  I have leisure enough to complain and "freedom" enough to complain publicly.  We can talk about what freedom means and what freedoms we truly have in another post.  At this point I merely want to sit down and think about helping my girlfriend buy a used car.  I want to think about how I can be a better person in this world and wake up tomorrow having learned at least some shred of a lesson, even if that lesson is to know when to hold my breath.   


Anonymous said...

The problem is not that we value work too much, it's that we value work too little. The higher value is assigned to something, the less of it is required. Saffron is valued similar to gold by weight. Had to tie food into it somehow.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all that (earl parker, los angeles) I was thinking about this "system" that seems to work for everyone today, but at the same time it does not work for everyone though, but is still adhered to. If you wanted to site reasons and evidence then I guess you wouldn't be going along with the system, and it is all essentially to feed the pockets of others. Nobody can figure it out. I'm not really into being a hippy, but end up thinking about a lot of stuff as the summer days are very long and hot. Many don't think about anything, but in reality if they just thought about something what they would tend to think is correct, may just be the opposite, but they don't even realize it.