Friday, October 15, 2010

Of the Amish, the Unabomber, and Slavery to Progress

What is the common denominator? According to Virgil Vaduva at The Greene County Herald (Xenia), we have given up happiness and spiritual values in favor of working jobs we don't like to buy stuff we don't need.

Mr. Vaduva contrasts our lives with those of the Amish:

While the Amish view their lives as a living sacrifice to their Creator, families and communities, the English (as the Amish would call us) dedicate their lives to the 8 to 5 job, corporatism and a life-long pursuit of a career, all away from family and community. As we are told, this is “the American dream,” to have a full time job so that can make money, so that we can purchase things.

This dichotomy is well-presented by Chuck Klosterman in his book, Eating the Dinosaur. He virtually dedicates an entire chapter to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. While not justifying his actions, Klosterman sees how Kaczynski’s own rage against encroaching progress caused him to blow people up rather than finding ways to control progress.

Klosterman asks a seemingly inconsequential question: what does it take to keep my living room at 70 degrees in the middle of July? Very little, if anything, is the first answer. But to have air conditioning, one would have to live in a building with electricity and be connected to a society.

This requires money, which means a job, which means adapting and changing one’s life to meet certain parameters, like living in a certain place, around certain people, following the rules established by these people, working a job created by someone else for their own benefit.

In other words, most of us (present company included) live lives that do not make any rational or spiritual sense. The Amish offer a model for a more satisfying, if less opulent, life. But each of us has to decide for oneself how much of a price we are willing to pay for sanity:
As time is the most valuable thing one has, I would like to encourage you to look at the Amish tradition as an example of wisdom and resolved resistance to the pressures of greed, banks, politicians and Progress. They have managed to overcome and have long ago took the underground railroad, the path to true economic, social and spiritual freedom.

I readily recognize the irony of writing this article for an Internet website, on an expensive laptop computer, using electronic tools to research and gather my thoughts. So I use the irony as a prodding stick so I can daily ask myself the question: Is today the day I walk away from the system?
Virtual buckeye to Andy Myers in Facebook.

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