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Posts Tagged ‘post-consumerism’


Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it to the Streets

Driving home from the movies last night, my friend and I were admiring the Christmas lights that have sprung up in my town like daffodils in the spring.  Festive, cheerful, sentimental (bringing back such fond memories of childhood) they are a harbinger of the coming winter holidays – for many of us, Christmas.

I’ve noticed how many religious traditions have holidays at this time of year that celebrate brining in the light.  Which, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, makes a lot of sense as we move inexorably towards Winter Solstice, this longest night of the year.

We bring in the light.  We reassure  ourselves that really, don’t worry about it, the Sun will return! (and interestingly, Christians talk about the birth of the S-O-N, as we all re-welcome the rebirth of the S-U-N).

For me, having Christmas trees is a similar remembrance – the fecundity of the earth is not GONE, it’s just sleeping.

I so enjoy these aspects of “the holidays” and enjoy the music (well, at first – after the one hundredth time I hear “The First Noel” it DOES grate…).  The sense of festivity, of conviviality, of warmth – all those beckon me in, invitingly.

What I don’t enjoy is the way our desire to love and please one another – to connect, to see and be seen – has been perverted into a frenzy of often mindless materialism.  I am particularly put off by “Black Friday” and the attendant hysteria around getting deals.

When my friend Becky died after a 111 day bout of cancer, at the age of 46, I very viscerally got that the race between time and money is truly a no-contest race – time trumps money every time.  Because, despite gloomy economists and a sagging economy, I will tell you  that you CAN get more money.  Time?  not so much.

That’s why time is one of my two favorite gifts to both give and receive (for the other see the third bullet point below).  What do I want?  Quality time with people I love.  The chance to laugh and love and talk and sing.  Just that.  Maybe a drawing from the wee children in my life, or a poem.  In fact – you can write me a poem too – that would be delightful.

Oh, I’m not a curmudgeon (at least not on this score).  I am a believer in buying “stuff” for little kids (though I don’t do it at Christmas when they gorge themselves on stuff, preferring to send surprise gifts throughout the year).

Here’s my list of things to consider in celebrating this season:

  • Create memorable holiday traditions with your family and friends and focus on the experience.  My family decorated our tree on Christmas Eve when I was a kid and we always had walnuts and tangerines while doing so – just putting those out at this time of the year brings me a flood of happy memories.
  • Consider doing donations as gifts.  My wonderful friends and neighbors, Pete and Julie, do that with their adult siblings – all band together and do a group donation to a favorite charity.
  • Some charities make it easy to be specific – I love Heifer, International where you can pick a specific animal. My dad grew up on a farm – we have given him a cow for Father’s Day or his birthday – honoring him, but changing the lives of other people.
  • If you’re not a fan of what you consider to be “handouts” then invest in someone’s dreams on behalf of your loved one with an interest paying loan to Kiva (“Change a life for $25”) or Kickstarter (“Fund and follow creativity”).
  • Consider an outing to a cultural place together – and then go out for hot chocolate afterwards to discuss your adventure.  Museums, plays – if you are in or near a big city the possibilities are endless – but I bet you have such choices wherever you live.
  • Or, celebrate winter (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) by being IN it – go ice skating, sledding, take a walk in the woods, sit outside by a firepit – be with those you love in the bracing outdoors (and then that hot chocolate or hot toddy will be especially welcomed!)
  • Cook together.  Instead of stressing on the performance art of pulling off a feast – or the expense of catering one – invite your friends to make a cozy winter brunch or simple dinner – the laughter and happy talk as you  prepare the food will infuse it with even more love.
  • Do something crafty together.  Similarly, decorating can feel like an Olympic competition – but it doesn’t have to.  How about having a “let’s make our holiday decor party” with your women friends (I’m just not picturing guys enjoying this – but if they do, invite ’em!)
  • For many of us, this is still a spiritual or religious holiday.  Whatever tradition you celebrate – Diwali a little while ago, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa – “remember the reason for the season” and find ways to deepen your spiritual connection to God as you understand God.
  • Finally, find a way to be generous to those in need.  One of the happiest Christmas’s I have spent was one in my twenties when I baked cookies for the firemen in the firehouse down the street and then went and volunteered to help at a dinner that the local Catholic Church put on for the homeless and those in need on Christmas Day.  While I was serving turkey and mashed potatoes, a lady, probably in her 40s, with Down’s syndrome came up to me squealing “Look! I got a watch! I got a Mickey Mouse watch!” – her exultation with her gift totally made my day and all these years later still makes me smile.

My plans, still unfolding, contain many elements of what I’ve listed above.  How about you?  In what ways do you find deep meaning in this season?  Have you found a way to keep it both simple and meaningful?  As always, I’d really like to know!

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As you may know, I am interested in cohousing.  My two best friends and I are planning to either join a cohousing community, or create a mini one of our own in retirement.  However, right now Sue lives in Orlando and Bill lives a few suburbs away from me.

Bill and I took a mini-step towards our cohousing ideal yesterday when we jointly bought a shredder.  He needs one.  I need one.  We live in separate towns.  But really, how often do you REALLY have to shred things?  For me the big need is in January, when I go through all my files and clean things out.  Most of the papers go into the recycling, but I don’t want to just recycle the financial papers.  Sometimes I just burn them in the fireplace, but this year as I got ambitious and even cleared out the archives in the basement I had a whole big Tupperware bin filled with financial papers from years back.

I’ve been looking for more opportunities to share resources, to create community, to live more lightly on the earth.  Honestly, a shredder seemed a stretch in some ways, but I DO feel there’s sufficient craziness afoot that ensuring one’s financial documents aren’t retrievable makes sense.  So sharing the shredder with Bill seemed a step in the right direction.

I’ve also talked about sharing a snowblower with my neighbors Pete & Julie.  So far we’ve opted to either tough it out (Pete all the time, me with lighter snows) or hire out (me for snows over 3″, Pete for snowpocalypses like we had last year).

I’ll be writing soon on the Transition Town network and other ideas for creating positive change in terms of sustainability and living more lightly on the earth.

A shared shredder is a small thing – but I believe big change is best achieved one personal, small step at a time.

Tell us about the resources you share with others – or ones you could share.  What’s your “mini cohousing”/sustainability/living lightly success story?  I really want to know!

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Wednesday are Community Day here at Taking it to the Streets

My paternal grandparents were farmers in Doon, Iowa. They had a family farm with different animals (chickens, cows and pigs is what I remember) and raised different crops. Grandma had a huge garden, even after they moved to town.  When it was harvest time they’d get together with their friends and go from farm to farm. While the men harvested in the fields as a team, the women canned, smoked meats, quilted.

In what we call “the Sixties” which actually occurred mostly in the 70s, there was a small but notable “back to the land movement” with homesteading hippies.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang Joni Mitchell’s lyrics in “Woodstock” – “We’ve got to get back to the land and let our soul free.”

According to Wikipedia “In the 1930s, 24 percent of the American population worked in agriculture compared to 1.5 percent in 2002”

But there’s a new phenomena arising – a very different “back to the land” that doesn’t involve “tune in, turn on and drop out” lifestyles. In fact, it more likely involves minivans, soccer playing children, iPads and Starbucks.  “Urban homesteading” (which often occurs in suburbs) is a term being bandied about for the increasing numbers of people who want to take a more active role in producing the food they eat.  From back yard gardens, to keeping chickens and bees, to smoking your own meat, canning, drying food. 

When I went to the workshop put on by the McHenry County Transition group (mentioned in this post) there was information about creating your own solar energy source, canning, soap-making, beekeeping, creating community – an entire panoply of skills that were once the province of only rural folks.  Yes, some of the people attending lived in very rural areas, but the suburb my friend and I are from is far from rural, however bucolic it may appear to be.

I think this movement which fits hand-in-glove with the localvore and sustainability movements which also interest me, is a sensible response to both the ills of the world (as the Transition Town movement talks of – the confluence of Peak Oil and Global Warming) but also with some really good generational synergy – the ambitious sometimes driven members of my generation – the Baby Boomers – are starting to mellow; and the younger generations seem much more focused on connecting with life and one another – not as driven by “success” and greed.  It’s a nice confluence.

I like the idea of getting back to basics. And what is more basic than food, really?  In a world that seems more and more corporate and inhumane, taking back our lives, starting with what and how we eat seems a truly radical act.

Tackling urban homesteading on my own seems pretty daunting to me.  But I remember Grandma talking about those canning parties and quilting bees and getting together “to put food by” and it all sounded very warm and friendly and enlivening.  I could very much welcome that.

Of the 18 posts I’ve tagged “Food” the ones below seem most connected to this topic. So if Urban Homesteading and “rolling your own” (crepes that is – now what were YOU thinking?) interests you, pop in on these topics and please add to the conversation!

Something’s in the Kitchen with Diane (a Whole Lotta Somethings, actually)

More Cohousing Lite – Cooking Parties

Power to the People – Let’s Turn this Country Around!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Farmer Jane

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It’s Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets

I promised you more about Judith Schor’s thought-provoking book, “Plenitude” and though a day later than I had hoped, here I am.

The book’s premise is that we’ve turned a corner economically and ecologically (not in a good way) and we need to find a new way of being if we are to survive.  As the book jacket proclaims “Our usual way back to growth – a debt-financed consumer boom – is no long an option our households, or planet, can afford.  Responding to our current moment, Plentitude argues that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure.  Sustainability is at its core, but it not a paradigm of sacrifice.”

As regular readers of this blog know, I embrace many of the principles of Buddhism, with one that particularly appeals being “the Middle Way”.  As someone very prone to black and white thinking, it’s nice for me to always remember that there is a third way. This book presents just such a sensible solution.

The first part of the book outlines in a manner both academically dry (why ARE economists so very dry?) and simultaneously enormously alarming that the sky is indeed falling.  It’s filled with charts and numbers and footnotes about all the things those who stand to gain by what Schor calls the BAU economy (Business As Usual) don’t want you to think about.  What we’re doing is NOT sustainable.  Not even close.  This bus is headed off a cliff and picking up speed fast.

Just when you are beyond the “oh, shit!” moment she switches gears and in Chapter Four, “Living Rich on a Troubled Planet” begins to lay out her plenitude plan: “It is time to reclaim hours, build skills, invest in people, save more and perfect the art of self-provisioning.”

If you read the types of blogs and books that I do – on simple living, minimalism, sustainability, economics – these themes are familiar.  What’s unique is that Schor, a former Econ professor at Harvard, now at Boston College, has a clear understanding of the laws of economics, economic history – and she has a very broad worldview.  Her reasoning seems very sound and her argument is compelling:

BAU is not going to work (or, as Bruce Springsteen puts it “they say these jobs are going, boy, and they ain’t coming back, to my home town….”).  The alternatives presented (pretend that it will work and thus accelerate the apocalypse OR living a life that feels penitential in it’s ‘hair shirt’ denial) are unappealing.  But there is this third way of plenitude. And we can all do it. And we can start now.

I used to tell my colleague Marc, in our cut-throat corporate culture “act or be acted upon!” and I think of that now.  Schor’s first dictum – time wealth – is another way of looking at underemployment and unemployment.  She argues that working less not only makes for happier people, but frees up time to do the other things she suggests:  improve your “social capital” (non economists might use the words “friendships”), “self-provision” (i.e., gasp! cook your own meals, fix your own house, maybe grow your own food).

But this isn’t the hippie back-to-the-land movement of my era.  It’s back-to-the-land marries technogeek as I said in my last post.  As she says “Self-providing is great, but it needs advanced technology to be liberating.”

I like how she advocates a quilt approach (my words, not hers) to life – a bit of a mainstream job, patched to a bit of self-provisioning, patched to a bit of an entrepreneurial enterprise. 

She also takes on big banks (I love that about her!) and argues that by having more small enterprise and less debt, we can self-fund and not have to be backed into a corner by “too big to fail” (and i might add, seemingly too big to jail, though not if I ran the joint).

In her discussions of social connections and sustainability she touches on cohousing, near and dear to my heart.

In fact, this whole book seemed to codify and give academic credence to a way of life many of us are already embracing.  I remember back in the insane 80s and 90s I had a few colleagues from My Fancy Corporate Job over to my wee hippie house.  Seeing my tiny house, my old, modest car and knowing my “rank” at work I could see their heads spinning (“where DOES her money go? Up her nose? Is she just DUMB?”).  I am grateful for my wise father from whom I learned so much about money and life for helping give me a headstart.

Like so much of life, I think if people try to force-fit life to go back to BAU Economics there will be a lot of stress and negative emotions – a sense of lack, of unfairness, of missing out.

That’s so not how I see it.  I agree with Schor when she says that the time from 1980-2008 was the true aberration.  A lot of what she proposes would not have seemed innovative or radical to my grandparents – much of it was the norm WAY back in the day.  Think of it as a return to sanity but with better coffee and the Internet – I mean, really? That sounds delightful to me.

She questions the economic “physophilia” (Love of growth – ah, these academics – where DO they come up with these things!) and cites all sorts of writers and thinkers to say “this is NOT a given, folks, that growth is good.”

The whole book was thought-provoking, but Chapter Four “Living Rich on a Troubled Planet” is, I think the best.  I’m already plotting how I can move more quickly into my OWN life of plenitude.  So maybe not back to my grandma’s time, but “going back to the ways of my youth, I’m gonna go back and be how I want to be” (Jethro Tull) – hang out with friends, live simply, do things on our own.  Be our own bankers.  But with good coffee. And the Internet.  I’m there! — You?

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Building on yesterday’s post here’s my initial proposal to start a TRUE revolution in this country.  The America I grew up in was the leader of the world in virtually all measures – not a plutocracy, with people’s day-to-day quality of life falling behind. I think we can use the Army of the Unemployed to turn this ship of state around.  Please dialogue with me – this is simply an initial offering.

FOUR-PRONGED APPROACH TO RECLAIM OUR LIVES, COMMUNITY AND COUNTRY

  • LifeSchool – learning what we REALLY need to know; each one teach one
  • BodyShop – real HEALTH with CARE – taking back our bodies, not turning them over to BigPharma
  • Earth Forces (the REAL “Green {Hats}”)
  • S.O.S. – Save Our Society

Program overview

We all have talents and abilities.  The unemployed, the retired and the generous have time to donate.  There are ghost-towns of empty buildings available.  Instead of “wasting time in the unemployment lines, standing around waiting for a promotion” (nod to Tracy Chapman); instead of waiting for the government or (imho, worse yet) the corporations or the rich – let’s roll up OUR shirtsleeves ala Greg Mortenson and turn this ship around.  So this is all about things regular people could do by, for and with each other (remember the Gettysburg Address).  OUR country – not the rich people’s or the corporations (or, to give a nod to my friends on the right – of the government).

LifeSchool

Let’s set up free schools with volunteer teachers and administrators (or – someone who can write grants, write a grant to get money for building space and a SchoolMom/SchoolDad – someone to organize the thing).  “each one teach one” – people who know things can teach people who want to learn those things.  I see 5 initial curriculum:

  • Strengthening your Self (personal skills, including a tie-in to BodyShop)
  • Strengthening your Relationships – relationships of all kinds:  parenting classes, negotiating skills, marriage-strengthening, getting along at work, etc.
  • Work and Money Skills – Create your own job, find a job, job skills, money 101, investment classes, frugality, buying a house, anti-foreclosure classes
  • LifeSkills – cooking, plumbing, fix your car, write a grant, gardening, etc.
  • Save the World – getting beyond yourself to help your community, the world, how to make a difference, setting up your own Grameen-Bank-like skill/money co-op, etc.

BodyShop (REAL Health CARE – taking charge of your own health)

  • Natural Healing classes of all kinds (herbs, Chinese medicine, ayurveda, first aid)
  • Fitness Camp – personal training you can do at home with very little equipment or info about cheap gyms, etc.  Free classes (spin, aerobics, circuit training)
  • Food & Nutrition – cover basics, nutritional defense for specific diseases, build your immune system, fast and easy nutritious meals, eating healthfully when you’re broke, good food for people who don’t like to cook, etc.
  • Cooking classes – beyond just educating – big kitchen, group cooking, hands-on fix a meal.  Use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution idea – learn a meal, then teach your neighbor.  Eating healthfully, inexpensively with meals that are tasty and easy/fast to prepare.
  • Emotional Health – things YOU can do to help with what ails you – EFT, support groups, exercise, nutrition, mentoring

EarthForces (Green Baseball Hats? – smile and nod to the other Greenhat guys…)

  • Classes on sustainability
  • Green your home
  • Habitat-for-Humanity like group to focus on weatherizing homes for the poor, elderly, infirm, etc.
  • Johnny Appleseed Corps – tree planting  – help people, public spaces, unused land – fill it with trees
  • WaterWorks – water conservation – from in your house to in your country – water action!
  • Garden Guerrillas – turn this land into food  – teach gardening, encourage community gardens, ask to put gardens in unused land, etc.

S.O.S. – Save our Society

  • Take back Food:  localvorism, CSAs, food co-ops.  Move AWAY from the industrial agriculture that is killing us and is outrageously inhumane to animals.
  • Take back Money:  Buy local! Say no to Big Box stores
  • Take back Money, Part 2:  barter economy, skill banks, stop outsourcing your life

What’s Next?

Your “yes, we can” ideas.  I’m sure some of you have 100 “that will never work” ideas, which you are welcome to ponder while we move into action ala Greg Mortenson.

What I’m interested in:

  • Feedback on these ideas
  • YOUR ideas – what else can the army of unemployed, under-employed, retired or generous folks do with their ‘spare’ time?
  • Interested folks.  You don’t have to be local.  I somewhat suspect Chicago is not the only town that could use an initiative like this.  Start a school/movement/group in YOUR town!
  • But if you are local and would be interested in seeing what we could collectively create let me know – send an email to lifeschool.chicago@gmail.com

“We can change the world.  Rearrange the world.  It’s dying.” (nod to CSNY for lyrics, nod to YOU for wanting to change the world).

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Facebook, besides being a nice place to connect with friends, has been a source of new ideas and a ‘finger in the wind’ indicator of social/cultural trends for me (and maybe you too if you’re ‘fans’ or ‘like’ groups/businesses).  Through Facebook I came across the Move Your Money project started by Arianna Huffington last year – and I subsequently did just that – moved my mortgage (had been Wells Fargo) and bank accounts (Chase) to a credit union near me (www.bcu.org ).

Yesterday the Move Your Money Facebook page had a great article called “Is Mainstreet Ready for the Second Wave of the Recession?” which I highly recommend.  Don McNay makes three suggestions, which I’d like to discuss with you:

  1. Move your money
  2. Be 100% debt-free
  3. Create your own job – don’t rely on Big Business

So I can hear you now:

  1. I don’t want to – it sounds hard
  2. Not realistic! Come on, debt is an American way of life and besides, i”m not rich – I can barely make it as it is
  3. No way!  What could lowly little me POSSIBLY do on my own…

To which I say the following (grab a cup of coffee and please join me in this conversation).

Move Your Money

I heard about this idea through my friend Liz on her Facebook page.  So I checked it out.  Thought “this sounds hard” and “It will take too much time” and “are the littler banks really safe”.  But as I continued being Mad as Hell at being robbed by the banks & the rich my resistance quickly wore away.  It did take a bit of time for me – I believe if you are respectful to Money and pay attention to it, it rewards you, so I meticulously went through the steps very clearly outlined on the website:  http://moveyourmoney.info/resources – the 7 easy steps.  It really WAS easy.  And very clearly laid out on the site. Not sure about which local bank/Credit Union? No problem there’s info on that site or at www.bankrate.com or various other places as well.  I LOVE my Credit Union – wonder why I didn’t change decades ago.  It’s a not for profit – no rich bankers profiting off of me there and the rates are better, service is friendlier – everything about it is easier and better for ME as well as for our community (keep the money local!).

Be Debt Free

I’m reading that this is becoming more of a trend now in America – to which I say — it’s about time!  I’m lucky – part Scottish, part Dutch with an incredible Dad who started teaching me about money and frugality when I was still a kid. My grandfather (dad’s dad) and great-grandfather owned a hardware store that went bankrupt in the previous Great Depression – and that experience so freaked out my grandpa that he never borrowed money again.  At all.  That is – he never even had a mortgage or car loan.  I have had one car loan in my life (paid cash for the rest of them) and DO have a mortgage, but I have a plan to ditch that in a few years by aggressively paying down the principle.  That may not be realistic for you but I believe everyone can be debt-free other than a mortgage.  I actually believe we can all be totally debt-free but I won’t promulgate that til I can do it myself!  I’ll do more writing on money in some follow-on posts (it’s a topic in which I’ve always had a great interest) but for now let me say that just as you don’t own stuff, it owns you, having debt makes you a slave.  Do you want that?  No, I didn’t think so.  Conversely, NOT having debt gives you a whole lot of freedom.  Please tell me all your objections to this idea (or agreements!) so I can cover them when I write in more detail on this point soon.

Be Your Own Boss

Are you sick of layoffs?  Of not knowing when the other shoe will drop? Of everything that CAN be being outsourced to China and India?  Had enough?  Just say no!  Be the Boss of You.  You’ll have a kinder, more humane employer, working conditions you like. Well, you say – what about JOB SECURITY, Diane???  Yeah, I say – what about it? Feeling safe and cozy and secure right now?  I have been self-employed for the past 14 years.  My income has fluctuated with a $100k difference between low and high over that time (hmm, if I count the first year even MORE than that) – so being debt free and able to live simply helps a lot in this regard. If you are depending on US business to keep you employed I say better be prepared to move to Mumbai.  Or work for minimum wage. 

I wrote recently about Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (https://dianescholten.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/shop-class-as-soulcraft/) – and Matthew Crawford suggests working with your hands (he has a PhD from U of C….).  As I told my hairdresser, I guess they can’t outsource YOUR job to India…

So – please weigh in! What are your thoughts on these three ideas?  And which would you like me to write more about?

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Just posted a link to Jackson Browne’s “I Am a Patriot” to Facebook after reading from my friend Marian that she didn’t want patriotism co-oped or owned totally by the right.  I agree.  As JB says “I am a patriot, and I love my country”.  And it’s not just “because my country is all I know.”

There’s so much that is still right about America.  And so much we have to be proud of in our past.  I am the daughter of one of those brave men who liberated Europe from Hitler – you can bet the world looked kindly on Americans in 1944. 

I think of the Founding Fathers who, despite human flaws (like all of us), were remarkable – visionaries, brave and radical. 

I feel as though a lot got lost between 1968 and 2008 – like, perhaps America’s soul.  It would be easy to blame Washington, and especially, if you sit on my side of the aisle, to blame the Republicans from Nixon on.  They (all the politicians) were certainly egregious and some were outright criminals.  We – and the world – lost so much when America got lost.

But, just as with my realization that, convenient though it would be to blame BP for the oil-soaked pelicans, burning turtles and families whose lives have been turned upside down – I really have no one to blame in the end but Diane Scholten and my overuse of oil, plastic and energy.  Obviously, it was a lot of us – not JUST me, but still and all…

So too with my tsk-tsk about “how did America get so lost?”.  In this regard I feel a bit less personally culpable in that I’m an active citizen (vote in all elections, have worked on electoral campaigns, regularly write my congresspeople).  But I think the system is broken and I don’t think it’s a party issue.

Jackson Browne has a great song that I happened to hear on my shuffling iPod last night – “Lives in the Balance”.  The whole song sums up a lot of what I feel America has become (not in a good way), but this verse says a lot of what I’m thinking about today:

“They sell us the President the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they`re never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire.”

{see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPFdbKLUmQk }

It’s all of a piece: our oil addiction; the greed-money addiction of the plutocrats who run this country; our complicitness in it all.  Give us our oil and our shopping and some bullshit that sounds vaguely reasonable so we can vote for you and feel patriotic and like we’re pro America.  Why aren’t we asking WHY?  Why aren’t we saying NO?

I thought the perfect summation of this total insanity and inanity was George Bush telling people to ‘go shopping’ after 9/11.  It was SO blatant and yet people just nodded and shopped. Good grief! has it really come to that?

“I want to know who the men in the shadows are” – I think Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 showed us some of them. 

I’m hopeful that the Gulf oil spill is the Phan Thị Kim Phúc photograph of our era.  You probably don’t know her name (I had to do a Google search) but she’s the young girl in the 1972 picture:  a young girl, naked, runs screaming having been napalmed by US forces.  That picture and the pictures of our dead young men night after night after night on the evening news were a HUGE part of what stopped that insane war.  Because people couldn’t “la la la la la” anymore – we had to wake up when Phan Thi Kim Phuc was in our face. 

So maybe the Gulf will lead us to true (not faux) environmentalism/sustainability which could lead to moving away from oil which would mean we wouldn’t have to invade countries to steal their oil and trade our (and mostly their) blood for their oil.  We wouldn’t have  to prop up dictators of shady regimes – the men in the shadows there. 

I don’t know what we do about the plutocrats and greed – but I’m thinking back to a slogan from the Vietnam era:  “What if they gave a war and no one came?”

“What if they dangled materialism in front of us and we yawned and when back to living REAL lives?”

What then? 

And what would that look like for you – the post-oil-addicted, post-materialism-addicted culture?

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