Monday, February 06, 2006

Dear God. So many things going through my mind, and it's only Monday.

There's Bono's speech to the National Prayer Breakfast, of course. His best yet, some say. Well, no duh, I say. I'd say it was one of the best I've ever read. I agreed with everything he said in it...especially the Irish part.

And there's the book I'm reading by Wendell Berry.

His call for a new notion of simplified living is a hard pill to swallow, but it doesn't make it any less appetizing. He talks about the life of farmers in America, and the severe problem we have with not understanding where our 'stuff' comes from.

It's a good point, really. When we go shopping this week for good ole' Beth Shalom, we'll pick up some processed ham. Now, this is not a rip on the idea of 'processed meat' or anything of the sort. I love ham, and the ones that come in a package at Cub (the HEB of Minnesota, for my Texan friends) are damn good, especially on wheat bread with mayo. But, still. When I allow myself to think about it, it's crazy. First, the meat came from a living pig that was slaughtered somewhere, and the meat then passed through a lot of people's - and company's - hands to get to the shelf in order for me to buy it.

Now, again, this is not a call for the end to the slaughtering of animals. My experience with the killing of a goat in my rural homestay in Namibia strengthened my enjoyment of meat, instead of repelling me from it as such an experience would normally do to people. But the enjoyment came in the fact that I felt tied to the land. I felt like my ancestors must have felt, their lives being inextricably intertwined with the land in which they lived, breathed, and - ultimately - died.

Nowadays, we have no idea where the things we buy actually come from - or what even goes into them. This isn't a rip - I am just as ignorant as you. We all are. We have been raised in an ever-growing economy that sacrifices anything and everything for the god we call Money (oft-referred to as 'Progress'). We have done away with any kind of community for the cheap-prices of WalMart. And we all have, as Berry points out. "I'm not saying consumers are evil. I'm saying that all of us take part in an evil system."

And there we are. We take part in a system that searches for the cheapest materials at the cheapest labor in order to provide the cheapest products possible. Unfortunately, this does damage to communities, relationships, livelihoods, and local economies. It's just that we never see this damage, because it's far away, in a magical land called "The Third World."

This isn't a rant, Laura. And I hope this doesn't incite the baseless personal attacks that David has to put up with on his blog (yes, I do own an iPod). I just am so intensely dissatisfied with a world that spends so much money on military advances when our schools go to ruin. We will go to any lengths to increase our technology but we don't know the people who live next to us.

I don't know. I just see this better option out there...I'm just not a details person (as my job supervisors can attest). I just see visions...I don't see how to build the road to get there.

But, together, maybe we can.


At 12:05 AM , Anonymous Laura said...

Jason, I understand where you are coming from on this one. But if you look at it from a Marxist point of view, it is all part of the conflict of society. Im not saying that this it is an excuse, but sometimes it helps to step back and just watch the men is suits walk by. Maybe it would give you a hint of their own perspective.
All my uncles are farmers and I have seen what happens when you lose your savings on animals that won't make a profit because you pay more to raise them, than you can sell them for. Sometimes people forget what an important role others play in their own lives.

At 2:52 PM , Anonymous David said...

There was a report on NPR Economics the other night.

Wal-Mart makes up 2% of the Overall American Economy.

Wal-Mart is the largest and most successful company in the world.

96% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.

All this comes from a philosophy that consumer products can be and should be made available all the time at the lowest price possible. Whatever measures are taken to practice this philosophy are trivial means to an end.


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