Sometimes I get the impression that as long as we each have one of each, we don't care how shabbily or shoddily it is made. As long as it looks good on the outside and serves the moment, that is all we ask. If it breaks, we'll just buy another one, whether we need it or not...whether we can afford it or not.
The other day when I was reading John Holt on poverty, he said something that really stood out to me. One aspect of poverty, he wrote, was the inability for the poor man to have access to the goods and services he needs or would need to make his life not feel poor. Not only is his income low, but no one is building affordable housing for his income braket even though it would be theoretically possible. It's just that more money can be made making vacation homes for the rich than decent housing for the poor. So John Holt says. So is the capitalistic economy in which we live. The bottom line rules. This was written in the early 1970's.
Much time has passed since then, and in certain way America is different. We have cleaned up our air and we have cleaned up our ghettos in some places, and we have Wal-Mart and other mega-discount chain stores. The thing about these places, and yes, I'm picking on the big one, Walmart, but I also will admit that I shop there...alot, is that, like I stated in my opening paragraph, they sell crap.
Sometimes it's american made crap, but other times it's most definitely NOT american made crap. The blouse I"m wearing right now...taking it off the check the tag...says it is made in india. How very nice. Probably a sweatshop. How lovely.
But I only cared about the twelve dollar price tag and how cute it looked on me. I did not care about the person who made it, in india. I did not care about the environmental footprint of this blouse being shipped on some big ocean barge all the way from there to here. No, all I cared about was that a) it was cheap, b)it looks cute on me and c) I did not have to go the the mall and spend fifty dollars on it.
And so it goes. I can have a grill that is cheap and "affordable" becaue it is made from such cheap materials that I can bend it with my bare hands. Where was that thing made, I wonder? But I'm an american, and I NEED that grill!!!!
And so we (the collective proverbial "we") have one of everything. Well, no, not really. But close. We don't own a cassette tape player, even though we soon will so we can include some books on tape in our lives. This is not a bad thing, but it just goes to show how much of a fraction of our income is spent on each individual luxury to the extent that we barely even care to ask ourselves whether all this STUFF is necessary or good for our salvation, or whatever. And this is even in a household that considers itself to a) be broke and b) be fairly disciplined in its spending habits, and c) conservative and deliberate in it's purchases. Wow.
It's overwhelming, really. And sad.
How much does a family of six really NEED?
But we can afford it even though we are mostly broke and somewhat "poor" due to our broke-ness becaue it's there, and it's cheap...but it's CRAP. Cheaply made, not made to last, destined to soon be replaced and fill a landfill.
I'm serious, the clothes I sew myself last far longer than the store bought ones.
Where did all the quality go? Not only in our material acquisitions, but also in our lives? I think the same could be said for eating habits, for entertainment...everything is quantity over quality. And I'm sick of it.
I'm ready for a turn around. I dream of taking a year and embroidering a beautiful table cloth that is completely unique and very beautiful. It would take time, it would require skill and patience, but in the end, it would be different from anything else in the world. Unrepeatable.
The unrepeatable is what we have lost, here in America. I say we start a revolution of unrepeatable things. Of unrepeatable people, or unique, homegrown, art and music. Of food that does not come from a box but rather from a garden and a cast iron skillet, and of conversations that are seasoned with salt and light, and godliness.
That is my dream. I"m tired of the crap.