My mind has been musing a bit on sloth, hard work, and the character of a nation and here’s what I’ve come up with: America became great at the callused hands of those who dug their living from the earth, and on the strong backs of those who cut the timbers for their own homes.
In distinct contrast, its current excremental state comes from the oversized posteriors on which the entitled whiners sit, playing Farmville and slipping into increasing mortgage debt.
So what got me thinking about all of this? Our washing machine broke about two weeks ago; instead of putting a new one on a credit account from a big box store, I made a tough decision and bought two stainless steel Made in the USA tubs and am learning to wash all of our laundry by hand. In the past two years, we’ve also made a conscience effort to eat less processed microwavable junk. We’re now preparing real food in cast iron cookware over (wait for it…) a stove. Revolutionary, I know. The thing is, it’s hard work!
Did I mention the dishwasher needs repairs, too? As I’ve scrubbed and plunged the clothes, chopped veggies and stirred the steaming kettle, and scrubbed the crud from our dishes, I’ve realized some things. We are incredibly spoiled by all of our modern conveniences. The promise of the technology was that we would have more time. But for what? So we can watch more television or surf the internet? And care less about how we care for what we have? Or how much of a mess we make? Because a machine will handle it. And we have an energy crisis. All of our power has to come from somewhere. All of our “green” initiatives are falling flat (wind is turning out to be a bust, and solar can only do so much). We saw in Japan the hazards of nuclear power. But here’s the thing: The only energy crisis the pioneers faced was how much willpower they could muster to get the job done.
Our energy used to come from us. It used to come from our own sweat and muscle, grit and determination. And what they made was great. I bet very few of those sod-busting pioneers had to pop a Lunesta to get to sleep at night. History tells us that very few of them battled a growing midsection or widening backside while building this nation. We’ve extended our life expectancy from theirs, to be sure, but what is our actual quality of life? Anxiety, depression, confusion, entitlement and searching for our identity? Spending the last two decades of our life fighting off the effects of the cholesterol? Battling diabetes and cancers from HFCS, MSG, and the poisons Monsanto promised would make it easier to grow food? Was it worth it for all the convenience?
I don’t know. I don’t purport to have all the answers. And I’m certainly no paragon of pioneer living in our weak little attempts at an urban homestead. But I think the farther we get from the land and the dirt and the grit and the growth and preparation of our food and homes, the farther we get from what it means to be human and what it means to be independent.