Thursday, July 06, 2006

The ecological impact of thoughtless behavior

Today was fairly laid back until it was time to go the the chiropractor and take the kids and a huge laundry basket full of books back to the Library.

I tried to find something really intelligent to read and came away with some offerings by John Holt and one by Wendell Berry, whose name I picked up from the Crunchy Cons book. Also a tome entitled _Slouching towards Gomorrah_ which I think will be rather polemical and divisive, but perhaps worth a glance since I'd actually heard of the title at some point.

There is a chapter in John Holt's book _Freedom and Beyond_ entitled "Schooling and Poverty" that I got immediately caught up in, even though that chapter is found smack dab in the middle of the book. Even though written when I was likely still in diapers, his insights were profound and much of them true. His analysis of the cure for poverty not exclusively being educational hits home. I live in a poor neighborhood, even though we ourselves are not "poor". Yes, money is tight, but it is so by choice, so that we can improve our situation. He speaks of the tri-fold causes of poverty:

"The word "poverty" is too general, too vague. Let me try to make it more concrete by suggesting that it has three parts; employment, income, and material standard of life. A man feels poor and is poor when he has a bad job or no job, lacks money, and can't get the things that he needs. These components of poverty are closely related, but they are not the same. Changing one is likely, but not certain, to change the others."



So we live surrounded by people who do feel this hopelessness about their poverty or relative poverty. They don't have the income or the job that will offer them dignity or advancement opportunities in the long run. We have both in abundance. Even a blue collar worker who has the option of working over time for pay and a half has a sense of control over his work life and this can make a huge difference in morale. (I am of the contention that code monkeying is rapidly declining into a blue-collaresque profession.)

The impact of this on our family is sometimes disconcerting as we find ourselves, and more especially, our kids find themselves, NOT fitting in. It's the barrier of the way we talk, walk, carry ourselves, dress (even though our clothes come from Walmart or a hand-me-down bag or the thrift store), what we read, how we think, where we go the Church and how we vote. Even, perhaps, how we cook. It's our lack of interest in all things summer-evening-softball, nascar, and tatoo. It's politely nodding in supposed solidarity at yet another conversation about how "they" are ripping off the welfare recipients who should be getting more (being the person doing the talking). Usually I sypathize and say something about the atrocious health care in this country, conveniently omitting the fact that we even have dental coverage.

It's the HOPE that we have that our economic situation is on the improve that sets up further apart, I think. And the expectation that the future will be different, that we have options.

So, this John Holt stuff is a good read, and food for thought.

And after coming home from that outing this evenig I was SO TIRED. I made pizza. Frem scratch. Sugar free crust, Laura's Lean no antibiotics or growth hormone meat, and since I was SO TIRED...we ate on styrofoam plates with plastic forks and cups that were left over from our July 4th party the other night.

And what KILLS ME is that the environmental impact of that particular choice did not even register with me until three hours later when I was cleaning up the kitchen. DUH!

Next post: A spinoff on John Holt's definition of poverty that one component of it is that it is the inability to get what one needs. His assertion is that no one wants to sell to the poor man. This was written in the early 1970's. Now we DO have someone willing to sell to the poor man: Wal Mart. And every time I shop there I feel depressed because I feel like I"m buying CRAP. More later, on this subject...stay tuned.

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