It occurred to me yesterday that my issues with accepting care and being taken care of are sort of a microcosmos of a societal thing.
I came out of the hospital to full Holiday swing around me (I’m not doing much swinging, since Robert brought me home halfway through an attempted grocery shopping trip and told me not to go out of sight of his father. Not sure yet what is wrong, but I definitely flagged halfway through the trip. Possibly because it was so cold and for whatever reason my blood pressure remains too low) and to the usual scolds.
What usual scolds? Oh, you know. “It’s the commercialism” and “Why are we wasting energy on lights?” and….
This is a subset of the normal scolds. You know the ones I mean. The people who tell you that you should use a square of toilet paper only, or (like the particularly disgusting actress) that you should wash and reuse toilet paper. (EW). The people who go on about how much electricity we use, and how much water, and how we’re awful for using all this stuff.
Beyond the fact the people who bitch about this never follow through with it, and live lives of unimaginable luxury (by and large) compared to the rest of us, this bizarre call to repent of our wasteful ways seems misguided in more ways than one. Particularly when the same people then complain about hungry children or whatever.
So, a few thoughts on this:
The world is not zero sum. If someone is having snickers bars for breakfast, it doesn’t mean someone else needs to go hungry. In fact, thanks to the magic of the free market, the opposite is likely to be true. If you’re having snickers bars (or lobster) for breakfast, your demand for these things will make them cheaper for everyone else, and make it less like that someone else starves.
A belief in zero sum economics and distributing finite wealth has created real famines and filled real graves. The free market only fills the sort of theoretical grave where we’re told that “opportunities are lost” or we should mind “our privilege” or that we shouldn’t be happy because we don’t live in an utopia. I’m quite willing to dance on the grave of the redistributionists hopes. It is real graves, with real people that I dislike.
Using human ingenuity to its outmost to make a buck has led to the most comfortable and well fed citizenry in the world. Yes, I know, it would be better if we only ate things in colors that appear in nature, and if the stuff we ate were recognizable to our great grandmothers. However, if our biggest problem is that our poor don’t always make the wisest food choices, our ancestors would laugh at our whining. As they should. Humans seem to like weird colored food in bizarre shapes and textures. But hey, we’re living longer than ever, and maybe it’s time to relax and accept it.
Speaking of which: Unfettered humans are often crass and tastless, and yes, something should be done about those horrible sweaters your mother in law sends you.
And yet, Christmas is by and large a vast outpouring of love of others. Look, I never even know what I want, though this year I asked for two specific art ad ons, coming to about $50, but I love spending time and money finding the stuff my guys want/need. It’s an altruistic holiday, in which we delight in making others happy, and it supports commerce and the economy? That by itself might be the American triffecta. Look, sure, I could make gifts out of pine cones and spit, and they’d be deeply meaningful and stuff. Maybe. But in the end it would be still pinecones and spit, and more importantly, the economy would tank, since the market for pinecones is kind of depressed.
My household should probably moderate how many lights we leave on all the time. Rumors I’m afraid of the dark are… perfectly correct. However, let me tell you that there is no virtue in darkness. It just makes you crave light more.
And overall light is what distinguishes us from willing savages like North Korea. Wherever light glows, there human spirit thrives.
Those who wish to preach mortification of the flesh, be it in food and drink, in clothing, in gift giving or in light usage: do it yourself.
Self-discipline and control can be beneficial when exerted by oneself on one’s own behalf, or in the service of a greater religious vision.
But we will not turn off the lights and freeze in the dark in the service of sanctimonious scolds.
We will shine the light and shame the darkness. And we will not be ashamed.