The world is at an uncertain point. It makes it tough to determine a direction when the economy collapses, democracy crumbles, and the environment strikes back. Our food and medication are killing us, our technology’s a mystery, and we don’t know who to believe anymore. Wow. What a mess.
What’s one to do but stash your money under the cushion, unplug the world, plant a garden and load the shotgun for protection from ‘the others’? That or simply unplug your television, that cretin filling our minds with crime, corruption, disasters and disturbed people. But aside from the news, we watch quasi-reality shows, celebrity gossip and cute pet tricks to engage the mind. This makes for quite the mental diet.
While engaging in this act, we munch on candy bars, salty snacks, sodas, beer and whatever other convenience is tossed our way. With meat and produce making us sick or killing us, there’s always the comfort in knowing that these processed foods are rarely the carriers of illness. Okay, aside from obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The common link here is industrial processing, the art of taking real, live food and squeezing the life out of it. It’s those live qualities that can limit a product’s shelf life, after all. So, our physical diet is a matter of inflating us with chemically-derived nutrients, preservatives and coloring, amongst many others. Great.
Unfortunately, such a lifestyle will be detrimental to our health. Our beliefs and emotions feed on our senses, our mental health on what we ingest and inhale. On this premise, junk food, television and our habits are some of the top suspects murdering our health. We do have the health industry to fall back on, so long as you can sum up your life’s worth of problems in fifteen minutes. Surgery and prescriptions are their typical solution, as profit margins shrink if too much time is needed to one patient’s therapy. So that’s out.
Science has advanced our lifespan. We’ve discovered many lifesaving techniques, helpful pharmaceutical drugs, and taken the ‘dis’ out of disabled. It has also created nuclear weapons, deadly viruses, and horrific destruction. But when will we go too far? What ethics allow us to genetically alter our food and wantonly destroy our ecosystem in the name of progress? What good is a naked Earth to the future generations? Is this bettering us as humans, or that certain top percentage fattening their bank accounts?
Have our values truly sunken down to the least common denominator, being the almighty buck? What would we do without the media, food, agriculture, and technological industries? They appear to have us by the short and curlies, but luckily we have democracy on our side. Surely our government will protect our privacy, food, health, water and safety! Their protection is the reason why we don’t need shotguns to protect our possessions. Right?
These Keepers of the Great Canadian Household seem more interested in playing with their industrial friends that tending to the kids. While playing dice with our tax dollars, hoping to strike it big and provide a lasting legacy, they appear to be losing our lot piece by piece. Their focus on the economy has created a struggling citizenry, as the costs are picked from the pockets of our education, health care and social services. I don’t see how a new set of fighter jets is going to help the struggling Canadian citizen, but I guess everyone needs new toys.
So is the economy as vital as we’re told? After all, it provides us with our electronics, produce, food, petroleum and various other distractions. Our government grants and policies provide industrial relief to continue employing us to tear apart our house. The pharmaceutical industries are making obscene profits by providing us with magic bullets, then others to counter the effects of that magic. It empowers a handful of media giants to determine how we view the world, no matter how ‘truthy’ it is. It empowers six food corporations to run the farm and grocery store. At the center of all this is the bank, weaving the web of power while pulling the economic puppet strings. We are the entranced audience, feeding the web.
How do we get our house in order? It’s not a service we can get delivered. We have to mop up our local environment, sweep out the entrenched politicians, and scour our municipal, provincial and federal policies of industrial favoritism. This is no small feat, and those in power are unlikely to be the ones to do this. Now, this will have an impact on your consumption and lifestyle, but it really is about making the choice of transitioning now, or facing the inevitable impact later. Sorry to be a doomsayer, but the economy is the least sustainable of all. The ripple of the 2008 crash can be a global recurrence, and we should set up some disaster preparedness. If we take back control of the economy, we no longer need be threatened by it.
Economies were borne of a local need. These needs still exist and can continue no matter what size the economy. Our skills and expertise are already solely local provisions, sold at an hourly wage. We have the knowledge and intelligence to exist apart from the surrounding world, which is important if transportation ceases operability when the oil runs out. Time banks, where an hour of my skill is worth an hour of yours, have sustained communities throughout the world. Local currencies and co-op programs, requiring the participation of community retailers, have helped communities plug the leakage of dollars to out-of-town head offices and built up local businesses. There are alternate ways to determine our value.
The basis of our wellbeing is what we ingest, everything else is icing on the cake. Supporting the local food movement may be our first great step to embracing a positive future. The plants help our environment breath, replenish nutrients to the soil, and fulfil our nutritional needs. The backyard, community and rooftop gardens are blossoming as the gardener has regained her connection with the environment, and rewarded with a bounty of healthful food.
Entertainment was once packaged in the form of barbecues, dinners and a game of cards. Local plays and performances primed our imaginations, and local bands brought our community senses together. Our lives were defined by our community more than our fashion sense and television programming. Sadly, local arts and culture are in need of resuscitation after being steamrolled by the commercial empire. It is our community that provides our identity, the industrial detritus homogenizes it.
Once it’s all settled down, our solution appears obvious. Disengage from your cable, wi-fi and cell phone and re-engage with your community. The people around us provide identity, not our possessions. Our abilities determine our worth, not the sliding scale of the economy. Our knowledgeable choices determine our health, not our ability to decipher which advertisement speaks loudest to our psyche. Hope, far from lost, stands front-and-center with each step we take to control our lives. Let’s put away our shotguns and start building our own web.