Wednesday, July 20, 2016

another way to live, anything at all

Imagine the problem is not physical. Imagine the problem is that we cannot imagine a future where we possess less, but are more. Imagine the problem is a future that terrifies us, because we lose our machines, but gain our feet and pounding hearts.

Then, what is to be done? We do not want to learn another way to live. We would rather die.

Or, perhaps a voice will come down from the mountain, a bush will burn, new tablets of stone will heave into view like spacecraft. We could turn it all around. Take power. The answers are as simple as the questions.

We are an exceptional model of the human race. We no longer know how to produce food. We no longer can heal ourselves. We no longer really raise our young. We have forgotten the names of the stars, fail to notice the phases of the moon. We do not know the plants and they no longer protect us. We tell ourselves we are the most powerful specimens of our kind who have ever lived. But when the lights are off we are helpless. We cannot move without traffic signals. We must attend classes in order to learn by rote numbered steps toward how to love or how to breast-feed our baby. We justify anything, anything at all, by the need to maintain our way of life. We have a simple test for making decisions: our way of life, which we cleverly call our standard of living, must not change except to grow yet more grand. We have a simple reality we live with each and every day: our way of life is killing us.

Still we could be free. We could walk out the door. We can still walk a little or at least crawl.

We can, actually, do anything. Anything at all.

Charles Bowden, Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America (1995)

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