Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rambling through the Dwindling Days

Later this month my grandfather will become 104 years old, making him twice my age. The thought of living again the same number of years I've already put in, while knowing my physical and mental prime is in the past, while the time periods of favorite memories fades further into the past, while the world you value is destroyed all around you, while everyone you love dies and you wait your turn, holds no allure for me--that's 52 years of deterioration I have no interest in experiencing. Fortunately, I think the ongoing collapse of industrialism ensures that the days of century old humans will soon be a thing of the past. And with the end comes the new beginning.

We're living in slow motion through a car crash of unprecedented proportions, unable to look away. More than half a million jobs disappeared last month, making almost two million gone in the past year with many more expected to follow. The still rising unemployment rate is at a 15 year high at the moment and doesn't include the hundreds of thousands who've found better things to do with their time than look for jobs under present conditions. Obama wants to put them to work rebuilding highways; far better to put them to work tearing up highways and planting community gardens and trees which will provide food for the locals. Trying to find alternative ways to keep living the same way is not the solution.

The use of food stamps and food pantries is soaring. Credit card companies are reducing credit limits and eliminating inactive accounts. The country's fetishistic worship of guns and violence reaches for its logical conclusion.

A record high 10% of mortgage holders are delinquent or in foreclosure. No doubt renters are similarly waiting for their eviction notices but we're considered second class citizens and rarely make the news when we lose our homes.
The rising number of unemployed will soon become the rising number of homeless if society tries to continue a way of life whose time has passed. Alternatively, the number of homeless could grow so large and be made up of so many "normal" people (as opposed to the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the traumatized veterans, the dregs which the middle class suburbanite is offended by and ignores) that society might actually change.

Perhaps as the middle class find themselves becoming the people they've always looked down on, society will decide that providing people shelter is more important than money and property and put all that emptied housing and office space to use. Perhaps if society doesn't decide it, the swelling numbers of the homeless will decide it for themselves. It's time for the homeless to begin taking over buildings as factory workers did yesterday in Chicago. It's time to stop playing by yesterday's rules.
...the American public is deathly afraid of the kind of changes we actually face -- such as, the end of consumer culture, the gross loss of value in suburban real estate (which forms the bulk of the middle class's private wealth), the prospect of food and fuel scarcities, the need to re-localize our lives, the need to physically shape up to stop the costly and unnecessary drain on our medical resources, to grow more of our own food, to work harder at things that actually matter, and to save whatever we can for a difficult future. -- Jim Kunstler, Does Mr. O Know?
But every morning I walk by a new Lake with crashing waves, or rising steam, or glistening icy rocks along the shore, or bright reflection; marvel at a sky of clouds filled with the reds and pinks and oranges of another beautiful sunrise; see a plant pushing its way through the pavement. And I know that long after my grandfather is gone, long after my flesh has fed a hungry wolf or beetle, long after everyone is done calculating unemployment rates and shooting each other, all those things, all those things that actually matter, will still be here. The nights are still getting longer, but dawn will come. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.


Lisa J. said...

It's scary to think where we're headed. I'm ready to let go of consumerism, to do what I need to live in a way that will benefit others. But is Joe The Plumber ready to give up his SUV? I shudder.

greentangle said...

Scary but exciting and liberating too. By the time your son is my age, it's going to be such a different world--good luck to him. I really do think it's going to be better on the other side, but how we're going to get there is a big question.

Stephanie E. said...

Poetic post. Thanks for sharing it.

greentangle said...

Thanks. You did a fine job on your post about AR activists.