The Fragility of the Most Valuable

The worthwhile things in life are fragile, easily damaged by violence or carelessness. Human life itself is all too easily brought to a sudden end.

American society worships violence, and routinely tramples fragile worthwhile things like so many optimistic daffodils that have popped up on a heavily traveled footpath. Brutal sports offer the thrill and excitement of games with an uncertain outcome. Men in particular get caught up in the violence, especially when there is alcohol. Post-game riots have killed some, and cost millions.

American society worships violence,
and things that have no real value.

Moments of peace in our land are much harder to come by, and many people’s frenetic, high stress lives make tranquility nearly impossible.

With guns floating around by the hundreds of millions, it is very easy even for a convicted violent felon to get as many as he wants, even illegal guns like machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. The inevitable outcome of gun use is virtually always negative, varying only in degree.

If someone is killed, whole generations are affected in many ways. But so-called gun rights people don’t see it that way. For them, the safety of our entire culture depends on all 321 million of us having guns, which carry the inherent threat of violence and death. They have no explanation for the better life to be had in countries that are not awash in weapons. Nature is irrelevant to them. Life is guns and violence, and the natural companion of guns is intolerance.

Gun rights people believe
the safety of our entire culture depends
on all 321 million of us having guns.

Picture now two identical houses. One looks pretty much like it did when it was new several decades ago, but the other shows the evidence of care, of landscaping, trees, bushes, and other plants, that are carefully nurtured and cared for. Few people would choose the identical naked house over the one surrounded by flowers, bushes, and trees.

We have built a nation where the majority are disconnected from the living world. We have only to walk around in the city to see the neglect and mistreatment of living things that, carefully nurtured, would make everyone’s life better. Instead, we see plants that are purposely trampled, trees with branches ripped off, or otherwise purposely damaged or destroyed, even run over by cars. We see trash purposely dumped in places where we all live, places where trees have been purposely destroyed, parks where people have left their refuse without a thought, semi-literate graffiti on all sorts of surfaces, street corners where all manner of trash has been dumped…

The majority are disconnected from the living world.

Every bit of this negligence or purposeful destruction—not even counting the graffiti—reduces what we can spend on making the city a more decent and livable place. It’s as if we didn’t want a pleasant life.

People who have grown up disconnected from the living world around them think that food comes in a box, or plastic. From the supermarket, or Mickey-D. Alice Watters’ campaign to change this often astounds the public school students who taste her real foods, fresh out of the school garden. If you think tomatoes are those neon-pink supermarket things turned sort-of-red by ethylene gas, your first bite of a real, vine ripened, naturally grown tomato can be, literally, world-changing. Why eat the crap we do if food like this is possible?

I have a few homilies about real food: real food has one ingredient; real food does not come in a package of any kind; never buy food from someone who gets an annual bonus; real food does not list ingredients; food value is inversely related to processing, packaging, and advertising; it is best to buy food from someone with dirt under his fingernails. People would benefit from thinking about this stuff more than they do.

We launch wars one after the other,
mostly in pursuit of oil.

Our American culture worships things that lack genuine value. Republicans think a president who doesn’t launch at least one war is weak. We launch wars one after the other, mostly in pursuit of oil and the money it generates for people who don’t need it. It’s always possible to get additional billions for “defense”—which is actually warmongering—while education goes hungry. Any why? Because war = profit.

We worship football, boxing. Car racing, in which the most popular event is a crash, especially a fatal one. In ownership of multiple guns, and various unofficial militia groups that play gun games on weekends. It’s a rare computer game that does not involve killing, and Hollywood entertainment seems to consist exclusively of car crashes, explosions, guns, fistfights, and so on. This is life?

We worship money. Our entire corporate history has been one of extracting every last penny of profit possible, regardless of the many negative consequences. Corporations spend billions on advertising to convince us that we must buy something or other. Either something we can’t afford or something like beer, which has lots of competitors.

Is there any wonder that
corporations want to turn our education system
into corporate education?

But none of those things we worship has any genuine natural value. We worship them only because they are promoted by the corporate world, which is done solely in pursuit of money. College offers the opportunity to expand the mind, and learn about the natural world and human progress. Presidents of large universities may be paid as much as a million dollars. But the football coach is paid seven million. 

Is there any wonder that corporations are so interested in turning our public education system into corporate education? It’s for profit, what else? But when funding is diverted into profit, there is less for learning, and the quality of education can only go down.

We have built a huge useless edifice entirely out of money and violence, when the most valuable and important things in the world are nature, quiet, and peace, in which love can grow.

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