Friday, November 27, 2009

If all Democrats are like Garrison Keillor, then Sarah Palin has a point

I consider myself a liberal democrat. I'm educated, I value the idea of "public" institutions, I believe in that democracy is a process of engagement, not just an an opportunity to elect a stand-in.
But I hear the attacks coming from folks like Sarah Palin. I understand that they're trying to manipulate the Urban/Rural cultural divide to paint us as elitists. Hard-working "authentic" Americans are the Rural, individualist Republicans. I take issue with that.
Then I hear Garrison Keillor pretending to be from a small town, and knowing he is a liberal democrat really bothers me. His pretense is not the only thing that puts our position in danger. It's his pride, his sexism, his unwillingness to "deal" with the "little people" that run his operation. He's a snooty tyrant. I don't want to be mixed up with him. And if the perception of all of our left-leaning politicians is like this, then we're doing something wrong.
We are being hypocrites.
Do we know what's best for this country? The more I learn about the founding of this nation, the more I realize both sides are so similar - we're casting an illusion of our differences. And that illusion comes from some people believing and behaving as if they're more valuable than other human beings.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Elite v. Real America

Cultures all over the world face the crisis of "authentic identity" when it comes to looking at Rural versus Urban existence. These different modes of existence, connection to land and resources, are what have been blatantly and obscenely manipulated in our own media for the sake of some fabricated "Culture War".
The modes of existence are in themselves the beauty of Capitalist social structure: the division of labor. We live in a system that doesn't require us each to be bankers and subsistence farmers at once. We get to choose how to spend our time, how to contribute. The problem comes when one "side" sees the value of the others' work as "worthless". Over the past fifty years, we have abruptly disregarded and disrespected the work of rural farmers, and today these New York "Investment Banker types" are being appropriately questioned for their valuable contribution to our existence.
This constant devaluing of Rural life in particular is mostly demonstrated by the "Brain Drain" from farming communities to colleges and cities (this happens all over the world, destabilizing traditional social structures and economies). Rural to Urban is seen as "forward moving", and as a natural evolutionary step in our intelligence and sophistication.
How then has communalism (or even socialism), the left wing, become associated with these Urban individualists? And how has individualism (or even libertarianism), the right wing, become associated with these Rural collections of family farm networks? Has the Urban mythologized the Rural? Because to me, it seems that the Rural lives out communal values while the Urban lives out individualist values. So how do the politics match up? Because the divide is an illusion. When we reflect on the political divide only during election time, the anger builds but these clear distinctions seem to make less and less sense. I say it is pure and masterful marketing on the part of politicians.
Rural folk are portrayed as lacking education and somehow "lower" to be content with the mundane farm life. This makes them seemingly unable to open the doors to social mobility, "the good life" where they might develop a sense for the "real wealth" available in the larger, more paved settlements of our landscape. Because really, if those "Urban Elites" don't admit that they cannot survive without farmers, they will be completely disconnected from the process of life that sustains us all.
Urban folk are portrayed as head-in-the-clouds control freaks who are somehow "out to get" the little guy. I've met quite a few city dwellers who lift their noses at the idea of "nature" or "country", but I've known quite a few of my hillbilly homeboys who are making it big in the city now and still know where they come from. While urbanites still have something vital to learn from the wisdom of our Rural American neighbors, there's got to be opportunity for reciprocity. The mastery of complex social networks, starting with the city and now with technology, has connected us to all of humanity. If those "Real Country Folk" don't admit that they too can gain from the other side of the coin, then they disconnect themselves from not only the home market, but the global one.
We are all the same, and we need each other.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food Packaging

In the past few years of trying to eliminate plastics from my household, I have become increasingly aware (and disgusted) by the ubiquitous and unrelenting use of plastics in the produce section of the grocery store. Bananas in a plastic container. Apples sliced and sealed in pull-open baggy -- to transform your apple into an easy to eat "snack". So the amount of petroleum used to transport these goods to us may now have been surpassed my the amount of petroleum used to make them shiny and palatable.
Why does plastic make it palatable? Why are we, as consumers, not able to look at an apple and recognize its Holy packaging, made ready and available for us to eat in its own simple existence? Is it because they should be washed? And we're unsure of the amount of chemicals sprayed on the orchard? Why does the layer of plastic between the creation and our mouths make it safer? God forbid we actually have to process or wash our food, God forbid we are forced to know that it is a process, a growth of life. Maybe we can't face it because we would have to face the fact that we are also a process, a growth of life, an individual sprout on the stalk of many brussels sprouts...