What’s the point?

This past weekend I touched a $2,135 sweater. No one stopped me, so I touched the $965 matching pants. Over $3,000 before underpants or socks or shoes.

As I am thinking this week about our long-term commitment to our own well-being, the well-being of others, and the well-being of all — well, frankly I cannot wrap my head around $3,000 casual clothes! Somehow, our metrics of success are not about ending homelessness, equal opportunity to create art, or the even the ability to seek unity with the vibration of the spheres.

No, we are measuring our worth in these:

  • A few teens with cars instead of all teens with bus passes.
  • A few people with 6000 sq ft houses instead of all people with housing.
  • A lot of people with fuel-guzzling cars instead of all people with transportation and a sustainable environment.
  • Ocean front corporate headquarters (that we will be expected to bail out) instead of living wages for all workers.
  • $350,000 educations with no debt for some and limited to no education for most others.

I am unsure about how we expect to address the pressing issues of today without acknowledging the damaging realities of greed and competition.

Oh, and this: As I was touching the sweater, I could recall at least 20 homeless men that I passed on my walk to the store. I wondered if the sweater would keep them warm.

2 thoughts on “What’s the point?

  1. I wonder, Gary, has such a society ever existed? I’ve been thinking lately about the imperialism of Rome and its necessary slavery/mercenaries, the feudalism of the middle ages with serfs and lords, the industrialism of the modern era with capitalist giants and paid slaves… To one extent or another, such a society has not existed since the earliest humans banded together to stay alive in their packs. I was trying to think of exceptions… the North before the war was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of the Southern slavery which the North condemned… The Puritans were pretty generous with one another but brutal with the Indians… Perhaps the Kibbutzim? But they could only enclose themselves in walls to protect themselves against the Palestinians… Is such a society a possibility? Maybe Europe has come the closest, but the rise of the backlashing Right in Europe would dictate that even those societies have limits to how far they will extend egalitarianism. The Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and Icelanders are also pretty homogeneous, and their poorest came here in general… So I guess yes, as Bernie often points to, we could become more like the Scandinavian countries, but they don’t have the racial aspect we have. Maybe the real question is, can a heterogeneous society conquer what divides it to become what you describe? I’m convinced, my friend, and perhaps it’s my generational difference mixed with a twinge of Lutheran anthropology (all are only evil all the time) that makes me say, “No. Such a society can’t exist.” I can’t make someone less selfish. I can’t make someone want to pay more in taxes. In a homogeneous culture, it’s easier to see the other as one of all… Is that possible in a non-homogeneous culture? The rise of Drumpf proves there isn’t much difference between 1939 and 2016. So now what?


    • Tom, what a wonderful and thoughtful comment. Thanks for your thinking on this. I have not clarified at this point — largely because I have not thought through it enough (big topic, after all) — that community and society are not equivalent, just as society and nation-states are not. I am thinking of communities as being not quite micro, but neither macro. Villages, towns, neighborhoods in metropolitan areas would seem to have the best chance of community. I know people in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee and Detroit have developed these communities. But, neither is community necessarily geographic. I suspect their are Wiccans and Zoroastrianism who have done the same;-).


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