Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Illusion of Money part II

Eleven score and thirteen years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. They brought with them seeds of all kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetables. They brought with them cattle, sheep, and goats. They brought tools and beasts to dig, plow, sow, and reap. They took a wilderness (please, let's save all the discussion of indigenous tribes for another blog) and erected cities. They grew food, spun clothing, built homes, enacted laws, and transformed the land into a place worth fighting over--a place worth dying for. They did this all with no modern machinery, no electricity, and, in the beginning, not even an established mail system. They provided for all their needs out of the ground on which they stood. Contrast that time to our world today in which a person could conceivably live out his entire life sitting in front of a computer screen. Ship me some food. Ship me an exercise bike. Buy my online products. It is in this backdrop of detachment from the gifts of our own lands that the 20th century American grew into quite a peculiar creature indeed. He began to obtain his clothing from a tailor after not witnessing him spin a single thread. He began to obtain his fuel from an underground pipe after not taking the first swing with an axe. He began to obtain his shelter as a second or third-hand consignment, after not even seeing a hammer and nails or knowing the first thing about the upkeep and maintenance of a building and often choosing a home motivated by egotism and financial profit more than by functionality and comfort. Most importantly, the 20th century American began to eat food every day that he has had no hand in planting, pruning, harvesting, raising, slaughtering, cleaning, or preparing. Nor has he even thought to give thanks to God in many cases. How easy it has become for the 20th century American to believe that all his needs are only a credit card swipe away, never seeing the effort and material expended on his behalf, never appreciating the good earth from which his needs were harvested. It is a funny thing to see how appetites can be tempered when consumption depends directly on one's own efforts.

The illusion of money has drawn man away from the lands into the cities where he hopes to reel in bigger and bigger fishes until perhaps one day he has caught so big a fish he will have no desire to fish again. The problem is that this pursuit arises out of greed and not out of a defined necessity. Necessities can always be satisfied. Greed can not. As a result, the American lifestyle has become a constant chase after that elusive big fish, and the 10% of people who have dedicated their lives to the real work of providing basic needs (i.e. food) for society have taken on the burden of providing for the 90% who are out living unnatural lives, not providing for themselves. Then, in the biggest irony of it all, those farmers, growers, processors, packers, and shippers have by necessity become big business men with looming deadlines and quotas to meet, which has forced them to adapt unnatural, barbaric practices that have resulted in the denaturation and sterilization of our food. America's farmers, like so many suspect professional athletes, have resorted to chemical means to improve their performance.

In light of all this, perhaps a little mercy would be in order for Barry Bonds.

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