Wednesday, July 06, 2005


It is what you do, not what you say.

Just look around. Then look again and pay really close attention. There is a local guru of certified organic, and I swear he does nothing that doesn’t involve getting someone else’s money and putting some cut of it into his own pocket. He’s always got a new scheme, and usually he’s both coordinating it and being a beneficiary. There is another person who protests logging, gets paid to do so, then uses Georgia Pacific lumber instead of her own 50 acre wood. It’s easier. It is also easier for her to turn up the propane heat than to build a fire in her kitchen woodstove. It is easier to demand government regulation of MPG but too hard to keep the kids at home and not commute, daily, to jobs in climate controlled buildings, jobs that just coordinate and intervene and facilitate some more. The peace education center, which is at least volunteer, hides its meetings and online discussion groups, afraid of dialog with those who might differ.

Look at the Free 8 concerts; they were there to change the world but they couldn’t even pick up the trash in a 3 square foot area around where they were standing. That changing the world thing must be a lot easier and involve a lot less effort and a lot more selfishness than I thought.

Heck, if anyone were really serious about ending poverty, they would not end poverty but wealth. Hmmm, hard for rich superstars to bankroll that. Doing that wouldn’t get them trips around the world and column space in People magazine. Hard for the interfering do-gooders to get behind that with no government grants available for it. Hard to get youth to come out for concerts against the delusion of daddy’s wealth.

But why would it be important to end wealth? Because wealth more than what one man (or family unit) can actually produce in *real*goods*themselves* is always and inevitably built upon exploitation. If you have more than you yourself actually produce, you are an exploiter. Bourgeoisie.

Yes, end wealth by not participating in wealth, and even more by ending the perception of wealth. Martha Stewart made it an admirable thing to be a home-maker again. In that same way, by means of changing our own perspective, we can choose to quit valuing and envying and emulating and patronizing hoarding/exploitive/money-based wealth.

We could also quit participating in the larceny of government by not accepting employment or grants or handouts from the government. Make so little money (and that on the underground economy) that the government can’t take any of it to redistribute to someone else.

End wealth by perceiving wealth as the health (of the earth, of the grower, of the eater) of the food we eat; perceiving wealth as the productivity of the work we do; perceiving wealth as the transformation of the work of our muscles into the means of our sustenance.

It is that Gandhi quote, Be the change you wish to see. Be it. For real.

I was talking with someone who made the observation that it was easier for her to be a conservationist because she was could see the results of her choices directly in her life: if she consumed stuff that brings in lots of trash, she has to take it to the dump more often; that if she put chemicals on her garden, she would drink them the next day from her well, those sorts of connections. Which is really another thing about ending wealth: Wealth insulates us, distances us, from the world we live in; makes things philosophical concepts rather than meaningful choices. It produces envy, covetousness, jealousy. One writer has said that money is the measure of our lack of love. Another writer has pointed out that money isn't and never was real.

If just 15% of us chose not to participate in the culture of wealth, it would collapse. And poverty would be ended. It cannot be ended by governments or concerts or protests or coordinators or interveners or indoctrinators or advertising campaigns or star power or aliens or the Gods.


madcapmum said...

Those concerts were a pretty strange phenomenon, weren't they? A bunch of rich people putting on a show for other rich people, ostensibly for the benefit of poor people. I don't know, something didn't connect for me in all that... must be something wrong with me, I guess.

That bit about conservation hitting home is true for me, too, in a much smaller way, of course. Now that I'm trying to grow some of my own food, I'm far more aware of what chemicals touch my yard, and my neighbour's yards, and the town policies concerning herbicides and pesticides, because I know it's circling around back to my carrots.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I find the whole idea, "end poverty now" so strange that I can't even find words for it. Not that I think grinding poverty or starvation are good things, but that the causes of it are political corruption and greed locally. You know, is Brad Pitt going to go in and kill Mugabe (or whoever) in order to improve things? Because that is what it would take. (and a lot more too of course)

Shelly said...

And the Goddess has spoke! So be it
The Shakers have a saying that I love "Hands to Work, Hearts to God"
Work equals worship. People Do what's important to them.People are blind and don't want healed cause that takes to much effort on their part.

Brent F said...

Been to Africa...this year. Not that it make me better than anyone else, but I think that if 15% of the "wealthy" gave 10% of their resources to actual aid workers (i personally know a couple) and not governments giving money to governments, we could really see this poverty epidemic turned around. The problem is that we as westerners are oblivious...the average person doesn't know that 46% of the population in Africa is aged 14 years old and YOUNGER...and that 50% of those childeren are orphans due to the AIDS pandemic. Or that 5 children die EVERY SECOND in Africa, from aids, starvation, disease, ect. I totally agree that giving big money to big government buracracies is not the way to go, but anything we can do as individuals to help just one child, make a world of difference! Keep up the great conversation...

the Contrary Goddess said...

Shelly -- that really did sound way more radical and preachery than I wished but it was as good as I could do at the time. But I totally get that our life IS our religion. People DO what is important to them, really, no matter what they SAY.

brent -- that AIDS is still pandemic in Africa is another failure of the culture. Now, truth be told, I think the whole empire thing, and the whole missionary thing, caused a lot of the cultural problems by destrying the indiginous culture. Much like all the aid programs to the Appalachians -- and the people I don't like much who come here to propogate those programs (me gritting teeth here) -- do to Appalachian culture. Although we Appalachians have proven to be pretty tough against that.

Not that there are any easy "answers", which is why I personally think we all have to choose to live ourselves sustainably because each of us choosing that worldwide is the only "answer".

Brent F said...

You are right in the Empire and Missionary thing sometimes destroying indiginous culture...there are many missionary scocieties that propogate your life the way we say and we will give you aid...but that is not how the original missionary taught us to do it!It's exactly the is My aid, and by taking it your life will change, and your culture will be able to flourish! I mean if you look at Africa, if the world is not careful, whole cultures will be eliminated, because all the adults who are able to teach culture to the younger generations will have died off! I am an advocate for individuals doing what they can to change the world, and as more individuals catch this vission, and start doing this, the world will change, one individual at a time!