Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sustainable Contrariness

I took as my name here Contrary Goddess so really it should come as no surprise that I am somewhat on the contrary side, of a somewhat contrary turn, that I sometimes say what other people aren’t willing to say or look at something from another angle and thus see it differently than is popular. And sometimes this little trait of mine, a trait about me that I like and appreciate, sometimes gets turned around and viewed as being a nay-sayer, or as a negative person, or something like that. I don’t particularly like those things but hey, I’m not in charge of how you view your world.

But I have been doing a bit of nay-saying around the blogosphere. Over on MadCap’s I’ve said (probably among other things) that her Blogotopians were all going to die, and that a “green” housing project was not actually so green at all. I commented about an Arcologist link the same sort of thing, that becoming a tourist trap was not a sustainable endeavor. This is much like my saw that government grants aren’t sustainable, so a grant for sustainable anything is just ignorant. There are other examples, no doubt.

So, since we are talking sustainable, what would I consider an example of sustainable on a scale larger than on Eleutheros’ homestead and Jim’s backyard? The only example that comes to my mind is Cuba.

Not that I know all that much about it, but let’s look at what happened there. It was a high flying place. Then Castro and the US boycott and embargo, but even those things didn’t do that much to hurt them as long as the Soviets were sustaining them. Ah, but there came a time when the Soviets were stretched too thin to even help so small a place. No outside inputs equals (with some provisos) sustainable. The cars they have are American vintage 1950s. There are gardens everywhere, and pretty much everyone is involved, somewhere somehow, in producing at least some food. Their external input is money for sex, which you have to admit is a renewable and inexhaustible resource.

And Cubans are poor. The politically powerful as always extract their excesses, but by our standards their excesses are most modest. The common person is what we might call grindingly poor.

Sustainable looks like grinding poverty to our excess-jaded eyes. Grinding poverty is a good thing. That popular left-wing blog banner about eliminating poverty, that’s just exporting our lifestyle and the environmental and human degradation that goes with it.

But please, look again. Grinding poverty is not so grinding. Most “poverty” is only poverty due to comparison with the excessive lifestyle. Poverty is freeing, it is enlightening, it is ENOUGH.

And enough is very little.


clairesgarden said...

I like you being contrary, I hope you stay that way!

dragonfly183 said...

very well said :)

Laura said...

I much appreciate your contrariness - a great reality check.

Jim said...

Your contrariness is what makes you so damned interesting CG!

Like Eleutheros, you say things people may not necessarily want to hear, but that's what I love most about you.

You challenge the status quo, the thinking from inside the box, and instinctively provide us with thought-provoking ideas.

Keep it up!

the Contrary Goddess said...

hey you all, you are being WAY too nice now. I'll start getting all paranoid.

It is a funny community, this blogging, but gosh, wild and wonderful and as real as anything else you can't eat or use to heat your house.

Which, I should really tell you on your blog Jim, but your scans had me to thinking today about beauty and art and context and being able to see beauty in context and all sorts of things.

H. Stallard said...

OK CG, it's time to get even...

One of the prime directives in my programing is "DON'T GET MAD...GET EVEN.

Everyone out there listen up...She's not really all that contrary. Actually she's very nice and sweet. The secret to her contrariness is that she wears #10 grit sandpaper in her undies and whacks herself on the big toe every morning with a hammer.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Yeah, but Harold, you've known me since I was 8. And you were a tender young 23!

madcapmum said...

"She's not really all that contrary..."

Harold, it's a terrible thing to contradict a lady. And CG, don't mess with his Tough Cop image - I'll bet Harold was just as hard-boiled at 23 as he is right now. Harold's only soft spot is for chocolate chip cookies.

Liz said...

Well said. Americans are so used to living in the lap of luxury, that it's a rare person who can choose to live simply just because it's possible. It's going to be interesting to see how the general public deals with shortages (of all kinds: fuel, food) in the future.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Contrary
I have some very good friends who always seem to have a contrary opinion( which is also at times contrary to my own )I think part of that is wanting to explore the other possibilities, and that's what makes for a passionate life and one that's interesting.

Australia is the most urbanised country on the planet. This probably shocks a lot of people who think of us as rugged ozzies (oy oy oy ) living in the outback.

At this time in our history Australia is very concerned for its precious landscapes and wildlife at the same time as our population decreses in these rural areas. What we have are people moving inland from our cities and these are often the people who are signing covenants to protect nature and who have become the 'new pioneers'with a different mindset.

At the same time I personaly think we also need to support existing farming communties

It would be intersting to hear about your own commnunities and those Of Eleutheros to understand better your own landscape, apart from what I have heard and understood from thec likes of Jarred Diamnond and others.

Best wishes

Jim said...

Harold! ;~)

I wondered what her secret was...

diana said...

Have known you a very long time Contrary!!....I knew you when you were growing up.......and find the you of today....very enchanting.

the Contrary Goddess said...

madcap, I can say this for sure, Harold is every bit as hard boiled now as he was then.

And Diana! So good to see you! What do you think of it all?

Marjorie said...

There is virtue in being contrary. How uninteresting when everyone says the same thing, or nothing.

Echo said...

How little it truly takes for us to survive and love life. People have no idea what its like to have nothing but they are far too terrified to find out, living in a box making their money, afraid to take risks.
Heres to those contrary!!!!