Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two worlds to choose between

I don't know when it happened but at some point, the things I most regretted about how the world was going, seem to come together in my mind as "corporate." Before that, there seem to be endless losses coming from all directions - shops that had closed, towns that were highways of ugly franchises strung out like trash along the banks of a river, degraded food, everything speeded up into ... nothing of value. Rushing toward ... nothing of value. Leaving behind in the whirlwind of speed, and the intensity of work, work, work, all the relationships that matter. Friends, family, people in shops, children on the street, old people. The world began to fall out between those world views - corporate versus people. Corporate versus community. Corporate versus local businesses. Corporate versus real.

A South Asian Indian I know said it was happening in India, that people didn't have time for each other anymore, at least not the middle class as it got ahead. I asked what it was like before. He said people literally kept their doors open and people would drop by anytime and take time with each other. And now, no? No, it was changing. People were interested in money now and when friends dropped by, in some subtle way a judgement was made whether it was "worth" spending time with that person, was there a value in it. He said it was a great loss because before, everyone was welcome and there was always time for people, and relationships were close and easy. Now, life was about work and money.

There used to be 22 dairies in Bartow County, Georgia. 22. Now there are two. In the surrounding 5 counties there are only 4 total. A repairman who came to the house said his father was a farmer in Pike County - cotton. He is black and only rented the land then. Now, there are no farms around there, everything is owned by corporations. He said there used to be a service station on every corner years ago, and they did repairs. Gone. Only big corporate gas stations now. Used to hardware stores.

We got snookered. We sold our birthright of connection to each other for cheaper goods and a faster life and the image of more money, but it was all a corporate mirage of "the good life" when the real good in life has nothing to do with any of that. It would have been better to pay more to a neighbor in his local store and keep the store and the fabric of that interconnected world, and just buy less things in general, than have so much, so cheap, so needless, and lose the world that we once had.

What is it like for this generation which doesn't even know that previous world? It exists in some places still but so much has been swept away. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, to bring our world back to wholeness.

I have come to believe we can only do that by getting off the corporate grid - growing our own food, generating our own electricity, slowing down, and more than anything else we do - taking time for each other.

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