Some very good points- that people come together during adversity, but
it doesn't last long when the "bad times" pass and that sustainability
won't be embraced by a large population.
We have similar occurrences here in the mountains of East Tennessee- ice
storms and power outages. The immediate response is for everyone to rush
to the store and buy everything they can get their hands on. (I use this
as an indicator of approaching storms.) They don't have enough food in
the house to get them through a few days, let alone a few months. They
are also lacking back-up heat and lighting. Power outages happen
frequently and most still aren't minimally prepared for them. So why
should they do something about Y2K if there's a possibility (in their
minds) that nothing will happen?
We have always bought food in bulk and grown as much as we can. We heat
with, and can cook with, a wood stove and keep candles and kerosene
lamps handy. When the power lines go down, friends and relatives in the
valley call to see if we're OK and if we need rescuing. They're usually
disappointed to learn that we're going on as usual and don't really see
any crisis happening.
I remember stories from my parents and grandparents about how people in
neighborhoods took care of each other during the Depression. That didn't
last too long after "Prosperity" returned. When disaster strikes here,
we offer our house for warmth and our wood stove to heat soups, etc. to
neighbors. And when the power comes on and the roads are passable,
everyone goes back to their previous lives.
Living and farming sustainably is a choice that some make and it takes a
lifelong commitment to continue observing, learning and changing the way
we do things. It also requires a deepening of
values/morals/spirituality. Americans, I'm sorry to say, are taught that
you just go out and buy the right product or do one thing and Voila!,
you're all through and ready to move on. And on the v/m/s front- we seem
to have let profit guide our morals: If it's profitable, it's good. If
it loses money, it's bad.
Another aspect of our spirituality is that we have compartmentalized it.
We go to church on Sunday and are ruthless business people all the rest
of the week. We should be dealing with everyone in a manner that
reflects what we profess. But, sadly, it's business as usual and "All's
fair in love and war...and business."
Whew! That's about as philosophical as I can stand to get today! It may
sound pessimistic or cynical, but it's how things are from my
perspective of a half century. How I deal with this is by trying to
achieve the ideal of sustainability and spirituality in everything I do.
We have committed ourselves to striving towards the ideal in all we do.
We're inspired by people like the Nearings and inspire others we come in
contact with. This is spreading the word slowly but teaching by example
is far more effective over the long term than preaching once a week and
going about our business as though what we said had no application in
our lives the rest of the week.
However, the majority of people are bombarded from all sides by
advertising that convinces them that they have to seek "The American
Dream." Most are all for sustainability, as long as it doesn't infringe
on their ability to chase after the elusive "Dream".
Now, if only I can figure out whether having a computer to put this out
is sustainable or if I'm justifying something I want to do.
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