Care Part III
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:57 AM [+]
It may in fact be true that technology has blessed us with a much greater amount of leisure time, which is a potentially wonderful thing, but what have we done with it? Impoverished (we suppose - for technology is terribly expensive, and we MUST have it), we are forced to fill our leisure time with additional work in the cubicle dungeons. Bored (we suppose), we are forced to sit and engage TV, internet, computer games, video games, spas, salons, shopping, sleeping, eating, and occasionally we plunge into an extreme sport or two – coupled dangerously with generous amounts of beer. Please, don’t blame McDonalds for making us all obese. It is rather ironic that I sit my lazy sphincter pads down and while munching a big bowl of buttered popcorn, and watch a movie that is trying to hold McDonald’s even remotely culpable for the obesity epidemic. Uh huh, sure. If ANYTHING is to blame (besides ourselves – ummm..yeah) it is technology, which has gloriously freed us from real work and provided us with so much leisure time that we somehow cannot escape and find time to cook for ourselves thus we ‘must’ rely on fast and prepackaged foods of questionable origin. Super Size your fries? Heck, we’ve Super Sized our leisure – whose to blame? We’ve Super Sized the chairs in which we do the vast majority of our ‘labor.’
I wonder if we would put CARE into motion more, if there would be any need for the multi-billion dollar diet and exercise industry? I’ve digressed a bit…but consider:
In this age of the “global neighborhood” when we can hardly be bothered to CARE for our immediate neighbors, our aging parents, our own children, or even our own bodies, how do we expect ourselves to CARE for the innumerable vogue social issues dejour? I mean REALLY care?
Too often, in my life, I get wrapped up in all manner of controversial global – or at the very least national - issues that I feel strongly about, all the while looking through the proverbial forest in search of trees. Caring, as an act, is something we can really only do locally.
Yes, yes, yes, I can write a check for people in Indonesia and I can choose not to buy from evil, demonic, satanically run entities like Folgers and WalMart. But what about the sort of caring that can be done with a hug? Or even with a bit of local business loyalty? Or sacrificing the AWESOME new Plasma wall mounted TV in order for one parent to stay home? Or the loving return of a beautiful labor-intensive favor to someone we once called Mommy or Daddy who dutifully cleaned up our mess? More than that, how about doing something PROactive in the fight against abortion? How about taking a stand on local issues – like zoning and development? Maybe even attend a city or town council meeting? If we transform our midset to be LESS global, I think that people find it much easier to CARE.
'Thinking Globally' is simply not practical. I would contend that when you REALLY do so, you will find that there is no end to the 'issues' that you must educate yourself about. You will choke a donkey with the amount of 'issues' you must be aware of before you purchase those Bananas from a country whose trade agreement with the United States is unfairly biased against the farmers of that country's southern most region of the northern most provice, not only economically, but also to the unique culture itself which is being wiped out by soda pop can rings and unfair coffee tariffs. Of course, then you must also be careful because that partiuclar culture and banana producing region is oppressive to their neighboring country's mango production and THAT country's trade agreement with NAFTA is copmpletely unfair and the Mango farmers have become HUGE corporations that are actively bulldozing their rainforests which is a real burden for American Pharmecuetical companies who are lobbying to look for medicines therein and AIDS activists (like Bono) are up in arms over the potential loss. Blah blah blah blah blah...I seriously believe that no matter what you buy, if you are 'thinking globally' someone will have and offer to you good reason for you to feel guilty about that purchase. The more you limit your local economy, the more intimate you are with it...and consequently the more you will be affected by it. You will CARE.
For instance, do you have any idea how much garbage we produce? Have you ever been to a landfill and been absolutely astonished? Ever been to the Lynnwood dump station on a weekday afternoon and see the unbelievably massive heap of debris? One days work or less...but I got to drive home. It's easy not to think about my garbage when it is conveniently hauled away and dumped far far out of my site and smell - very likely in someone else's community. So, you can either ignore the overall ramifications of 'thinking globally' or you can pick one pet issue and hinge your life upon it, or you can go completely insane worrying about how your recent purchase of agriculture is fueling an ongoing famine in Somalia, but is actually assisting farmers in Guatamala in depsperate need of fair trade.
And while, of course, you cannot easily exist on an entirely local economy, I do agree with Wendell Berry when he suggests that the more in touch and reliant you are on your land and your community, the more you will CARE about it. Spread THAT sentiment around and I think much could be done for conservation issues. And as I said in a comment on my wife’s blog, if you live somewhere you really don’t care much about (i.e. you could just as well live anywhere else), then maybe you should move?
And since I'm shooting my sawed off CARE shotgun with tiny tiny birdshot: Lack of caring is everywhere. The one who would chain themselves to a tree or stand naked for PETA might be just as likely to turn their wombs into a hellish blender, ripping their baby to shreds. By the same token, the one who would protest that act might be quite happy to rip out a beautiful forest in favor of some very profitable puke colored condos despite it causing havoc to a nearby salmon run.
We ought to care for our unborn. We ought to care for our environment. We ought to care (period).
Personally, as a proponent of local action, I need to show more care at home. It must begin there – to hopefully raise up a generation for whom caring is a much more familiar thing; a generation who will see the world as a responsibility instead of a playground or a rental property.