Thursday, March 30, 2017

What Life Looks Like Without An Industrialized and Transactionalized Food Supply

I invested 38 minutes of my precious Life watching this personal documentary of a group of middle-aged to elderly Britts on holiday (click link to view), and it was worthy of my time. I imagine that these people worked many months in a modern occupation to pay for the privilege of working for a week or two as subsistence farmers. The irony is delicious, and the documentary is even more so (delicious, that is).

This village in Romania is what life looks like without grocery stores and automobiles. When grocery stores and automobiles do not exist in everyday life a great many other things simply cannot exist, because the focus of life becomes food production and meal preparation—and the growing and raising foodstuffs, preserving it, and then cooking it takes time. It also requires the cooperation of more than the few people that typically constitutes a nuclear family. You see, this endeavor requires the resources and talents of a large extended family. I know many people call this "community", but there are essentially no such communities acting so cooperatively in the historical literature on any significant intergenerational time frame other than clans or families.

Such clans or extended families require a continuous supply of children—or the family or clan disintegrates and then ceases to exist. In short, no children = no food in just a few short years, even if the equation is a bit more complicated in the short term. Living arrangements that do not have access to industrialized food products will, to my mind, almost always look something like this. The only exceptions will be hunter/fishing/gatherer tribes—all of whom function around an extended family or clan.

It would then follow that it was the industrialization, commercialization, and (worse the) financial transactionalization of our food supply that "freed" those people living in industrialized societies from having to produce and raise well-adjusted children and food (by enabling them with copious amounts of CO2 producing energy slaves! The inconsistency of certain political special interest groups boggles the mind.)

Freed them up to do what, exactly? To work 40+ hours in an office and to commute 10 hours for the privilege of being 75 lbs overweight and for the joys of watching TV. After all, the average American watches 5 hours and 4 minutes of TV each and every day. Well, given the data we certainly were not freed to accumulate wealth so that you could get off of this hamster wheel. All Americans, even those earning $500k per year, are hand to mouth. If working and commuting consume 10 hours, TV viewing consumes over 5 hours, and sleep consumes 8 hours, that leaves the working people living this lifestyle (the non-working spouses of these workers have a different viewpoint and experience—one that usually winds them up in divorce court) just 1 hour, Monday to Friday, to use the bathroom and shower, dress, exercise, cook, shop for groceries, etc. On the weekends we tend to fill in the time we spent on weekdays working and commuting in an effort to recuperate. The physical and emotional impacts on the individual are depressing to examine, but the fact remains that we are a nation of grossly overweight consumers of psychotropic medications (purportedly) created to help us cope with the nightmare we have constructed.

We do all that we do because we have mortgages, property taxes, homeowners insurance, student debt, and all of our necessities have been transactionalized. It costs money to flush the toilet— so we must earn money to pay for that flush. We have to pay money for everything we do or consume. And we must get that money from someone else.

So as it turns out, there were a great many costs to our well being that are not being acknowledged in the "industrialization has freed you from having to grow food and raise children" living arrangement. And that is OK—as long as you are aware of the devil's bargain you have made and that you entered into this trade with full knowledge to make an informed decision. But of course, you were not informed. You were conditioned.

This conditioning started early—in elementary school. It continued in the advertising you saw on TV, through the teachers, coaches, police officers, physicians, colleges, corporate and government workers in your life.

We see the result of this conditioning in disturbing events all around us. Our fellow man has been conditioned into being willing to touch children inappropriately as a TSA worker, to engage in traffic stops for petty violations as an armed government employee/police officer in order to extort money even though many innocent people wind up being shot, to sentence non-violent and non-property crime convicts to decades in prison, to raid homes for selling raw milk, or generally to seek the approval of government or corporate superiors rather than the approval of our own conscience.

NONE of this could have happened or would have happened without the convenience of the grocery store granting you your freedom from growing and raising your own food and your own children. Let that sink in for a moment.

And look... I am not suggesting mankind revert to subsistence lifestyles. What I am really getting at is that the costs of our luxuries and conveniences are often just not worth it—yet we never give that the consideration it deserves. No matter where you are or how much you have invested in this manner of living the costs to your physical and mental health and to your soul cannot be ignored.

We know that supporting and participating in this conditioning is wrong. We know a great deal of this is intrinsically evil and cannot be made right with minor adjustments or worse, empty admonishments (think Social Justice Warriors and Environmental Crusaders)—you know, the kinds of people who extol the virtues of the nation of Bhutan, ostensibly because Bhutan is supposed to be the happiest country in the world (I have no idea if that is true, but for the sake discussion let us stipulate that it is).

We don't have to move to Bhutan to be happy.  It would seem that the best course of action would be to study their manner of living to determine what it is about their lifestyle that results in that level of "happiness" or "contentment" and then employ those strategies and leave the moving boxes in the closet. Of course, the real reason people want to move is to flee from the destructive oppression and pressures of our culture.

Would it be worth deconstructing our lives to determine what it is that destroys our joy in Life and what would enhance our joy? Well, that would be nice wouldn't it? After all, we have the maturity, the emotional wherewithal, and the inclination—but it seems we just don't have the time.

We don't have the time? To truly live?


Imagine an algebra problem in reverse. You know, solving for X, but starting with the solution and working backward and complicating things as you go. Something like this:

X = 3

Pretty simple right?  (Could just as easily be:  Life = time allotted to us.)

Now, let's complicate our lives a bit. Let's add 30M (a 30-year mortgage) to both sides of the equation:

X + 30M = 3 + 30M

But that's not complicated enough. Let's heap lots of other stuff onto your Life:
Let's subtract 15H (hours per day for work and TV):

X + 30M - 15H = 3 + 30M - 15H

hmmm... not enough going on here. We need a more exciting and fulfilled Life.
Add $100,000 in student loans, $20,000 for property taxes, $8,000 for homeowners insurance...

X + 30M - 15H + 100,000L + 20,000P  + 8,000I = 3 + 30M - 15H + 100,000L + 20,000P  + 8,000I

And we have lots more to do! First, we need an expensive wedding and a materialist spouse, then a divorce and debilitating attornies fees, then the destruction of our health by sitting in front of a screen all day, while eating, for 20 years....

Now the equation of your Life look like this:

X + 30M - 15H + 100,000L + 20,000P  + 8,000I + Wedding - Divorce - Legal Fees - Health + Obesity = 3 + 30M - 15H + 100,000L + 20,000P  + 8,000I + Wedding - Divorce - Legal Fees - Health + Obesity

I could really complicate this equation in much the same way you have been conditioned to complicate your Life, but I am sure you have the idea...

You started out with:

X = 3

and at the end of your Life, you will be back to:

X = 3

Somehow our conditioning has convinced us that being obese, angry, childless (or one and done and divorced) while living in a state of frantic commotion in order to pay the bills will somehow yield immortality. There can be no other explanation. Since essentially all of us live hand to mouth we can't have been conditioned to achieve any manner of independence. We must be convinced that we benefit somehow from all of the negative outcomes I have listed. No sane person could possibly come to the conclusion that they were a mere mortal and yet spend their brief existence in this manner of living.

That leaves very few possible explanations: Either we are insane, or; we believe we are immortal. Which also means we are insane.

There can be no wonder or surprise that old people are so grumpy. Thinking they were going to live forever they put off LIVING until it was too late. Conditioning vs Mother Nature? Mother Nature always bats last.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Immortals Among Us

The Immortals. 

“Never say die.” “Age is only a number.” “You have your whole life in front of you!” And my personal favorite: “50 is the new 30.”

Our cultural denial of our mortality is everywhere. We expend heroic efforts and resources on the elderly and terminally ill. We put off childbearing until our 30’s and 40’s as if it were uncommon for people in their 50’s to die—and shocked! Shocked I say!—when someone does just that, leaving young children without a mother or a father (and I say this as an older parent). We travel at high rates of speed wrapped in 2 tons of sheet metal and glass while texting. And why not? We can’t die! We are immortal!

And we are not merely immortal. We are forever youthful!!

Cosmetic surgery is nearly as common as hair dye, especially for women. There are no seasons in life! We are going to work at a wonderfully productive corporate career for at least 100 years! This belief, and the lack of provisioning this belief engenders, often requires competent people to re-enter "formal education" in midlife in order to “qualify” for another “job”! As if we will be bright eyed and bushy tailed as we hop out of bed in our 50’s or 60’s or even 70’s(!) for the long commute through rain and snow and cold to that joyful florescent-lit office/social network. Our “work family.”

When was the last time you read/saw/heard some great philosophy on aging in the media? Come on: other than here? Never. We wring our hands about how we are going to pay for “healthcare” for the elderly because when we deny our mortality we cannot come to accept that there is no cure for old age. So we deny its existence.

“The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it.” - Doris Day

“Don’t fear old age. It doesn’t last very long.” – Unknown

This is a terrible evolution in our cultural thinking. WTH (H = heck) would the ancient Greeks think of us? What possible reason would one have to reflect if there was no end? And that’s just it. We DON’T reflect. We rage.

Every day I am confronted by rage-filled people—on the roads, in a check out line, and especially online. These very mortal human beings, all of whom will be pushing up daisies in the very near future—and the fortunate amongst them will have the high honor of watching everyone around them push up daisies first—are fuming mad. So why are they enraged?

Because Life is not fair.  

It doesn't seem to occur to them that death is perfectly fair—and that it will settle all scores—because we are Immortal! Death comes to you whether you are rich or poor, male or female, beautiful—or as plain as a tin pale. And once it comes we are no longer male or female, black or white, Christian, Jew, or Muslim. We are no more. We, and our sensibilities, no longer exist. We wasted the incredible moments of our existence unconcerned with Truth and Beauty and Liberty because we want life to be fair and we are willing to scorch the very earth, and in the process deny the beauty of our existence, in futile efforts to make it so.

It is not enough that we, as individuals, are angry; we want everyone around us to be angry, too. See an injustice amongst the 7.5 billion strangers sharing the world with us? Post it in on Facebook. Gather as much indignation as possible. Destroy another day of your beautiful existence with rage. After all, you are immortal—not limited to the 25,550 or so days of existence that Life, Truth, and Beauty apportioned to the rest of us.  You... are special!! 

“Share the Rage”, or perhaps “Feel the Rage”, could be catchy new slogans.

We are instructed by rage-filled special interest groups to seek control and position rather than passion and love (or sex) because there will always be plenty of time for passion! We are forever youthful!! We are immortal!! Pass the Viagra, hair dye, and Botox!

Who gave us this? Where did these ideas come from? These are the most self-destructive set of principles ever conceived of by man. So who did it? And why do so many us believe these evil people and their hate-filled lies?

It wasn’t the great religions. They loved scaring the people to death about death.

It wasn’t the great philosophers. The meaning of life in a world filled with death was their raison d'être.

It wasn’t the great poets and authors. Their work is devoted almost exclusively to (trying to) understand love and passion in the face of death.

It wasn’t the great painters and sculptors all of whom worshiped the beauty of passion and desire and Life.

I will leave the rest to you.

For myself, mortal man that I am, I am going to enjoy this beautiful spring day and fill my head with all manner of lustful, passionate, pleasurable, and joyful thoughts as the Creator intended, for tomorrow never comes. And it will never come. That is what it means to be mortal.

To Life!