On contemplating some recent posts and comments thereon, I’ve been thinking again about how deeply entangled our lives are in the Great American Lifestyle.
Speaking of his agricultural efforts, Don Ford once remarked:
The pantry is packed with jars; peas, corn, carrots, green beans, pickles and more.
The freezers are stocked with meat and corn on the cob. Hogs await slaughter in the pens.
We winnowed and sacked dried pinto beans last week. Onions are harvested and stored as are Irish potatoes.
We have cheese and tallow stored. Chickens, eggs, goats. Milk cows keep giving milk.
All of this is way too much for Leah and I to consume. And not near enough if the trucks stop arriving.
Not anywhere near enough.
Our extended interconnecteness comes at a price: on one hand, efficiency and convenience; on the other hand, vulnerability to disruption. A burp anywhere in the system can ripple throughout.
Combine a severe storm such as Hurricane Sandy with a power outage such as the entire Northeast (and other places) experience from time to time and you have the makings of a real disaster.
Now add in the possibility that local, state and federal governments have allowed infrastructure to decay and cut back services for budgetary reasons.
Insert somewhat higher sea levels from global warming.
Observe that in an urban setting, 99% of the people have almost no sense of community or in-place social mechanisms for a community to express itself and be supportive in any prepared fashion.
Note that most people are woefully ignorant and unprepared – beyond stocking up on flashlight batteries, bottled water and canned goods (which they cannot heat/cook) – think food comes in shrinkwrap, heat comes from kicking up the thermostat, clothing comes from department stores and everything else can be ordered from Amazon – if you have Internet connectivity – if you have power – if the trucks between you and Amazon are still running – if the gas stations have power to pump fuel – if the roads haven’t washed out and/or the briges collapsed – if you don’t need medical care which is unavailable because the doctors can’t get out of their suburbs and the hospital ER is understaffed and swamped – if if if if if…if nothing goes wrong among the hundreds of things that have to mesh to keep the American Consumer happily consuming.
Americans used to produce necessities, at the individual and local level. For the most part now, we only produce non-necessities and consume necessities. When the necessary produce of others is no longer available for any of many possible reasons, the particular reason won’t much matter. We’re living in a house-of-cards – move one, the whole thing comes crashing down.
George Carlin said they called it the “American Dream” because you’d have to be asleep to believe it.
They may call it a Dream, but I call it a Fantasy.
And like all fantasies, it makes you feel good, at least until the saccharine sweetness sickens you.
A real dream makes you work.
A nightmare can also make you work.
You play the hand you’re dealt.
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run.