Back when my rants were just a numbered list, many of them seemed, on the surface, to be unrelated. And yet I felt that there was something tying them together. I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. As I thought more about it though, I remembered a book I had read, My name is Chellis & I'm in recovery from Western Civilization by Chellis Glendinning. I also remembered a quote that had stuck in my head from the Affluenza video and really resonated: "Advertising is the opposite of therapy." I realized there was a theme uniting several of my rants: Our culture is mentally ill.
I believe this illness has several root causes, some recent, and others going back hundreds or even thousands of years. This is not a "kids these days!" rant.
Our culture has lost its connection to Nature. Some individuals are still connected to varying degrees, some deeply, others tenuously grasping, hungering for more, but as a culture, a connection to Nature has become a thing for advertisers to exploit to try to sell SUV's, the use of which will hasten the destruction of Nature. I believe that our disconnection from Nature is responsible for more of our problems than anything else.
I believe that Christianity has done a lot of damage to this country, and that Puritan ideas are still hanging around in the form of unnecessary baggage.
Rigid sex roles are unhealthy and damaging for both men and women, both physically and psychologically.
Our culture accepts violence as inevitable and right and even enjoys it.
One of the most damaging acts to ever occur in this country was the case of Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1886, in which the Supreme Court gave corporations many of the rights and protections of an individual, but not the responsibilities of an individual. This has paved the way for untold greed and exploitation.
The more I think about life, and the more I rant about what's wrong with our culture, I see that nearly everything I think is wrong fits into these categories. There's some overlap. Sometimes something fits in more than one category. I don't claim to have all the answers. But this is my view of our culture (note that when I say "our culture" I am sometimes referring specifically to the United States, sometimes to North America, and sometimes to "Western Civilization." You will usually be able to tell which by context).
Our disconnection from Nature
Shaving is stupid
Organized religion is not the only religion
People have forgotten what Nature is
Christianity's damage and Puritanism
Native American genocide
Marriage Protection Act? My marriage doesn't need protecting.
Puritans, wake up! This isn't the 17th century!
Love and Hate (a letter to the editor I wrote in defense of gay marriage, and the hate mail I received as a result)
Rigid sex roles
Girls Afraid to Sweat and Men Afraid to Ask for Directions
Women and Age
Cultural Acceptance of Violence
Violence: It's the American Way
When did poverty become a crime punishable by death?
Corporate greed and exploitation
No Leisure Allowed?
Radio betrayed me
Misery for Profit
The Culture of Fear
CONSUME! CONSUME! CONSUME!
Disney: When Mice Get Too Big
So, is there any hope?
Is our culture just doomed, or is there any chance enough sane people will make their voices heard? Will their views become dominant? Will the culture heal and become sane?
I believe there is hope. There are more and more people realizing the way things are doesn't make sense. Corporate media often downplay the numbers of dissatisfied people, so people have a distorted view of how many people feel the same way they do, but corporate media do whatever is in their own best interests, not the best interests of the public. There are several movements, many overlapping, which give me reason for hope. The most important though, to my mind, is the voluntary simplicity movement. The reason I think it is so important, and why it gives me such hope, is that it's a fundamental shift in people's way of thinking. Rather than looking at the problems of our culture in isolation, people who practice voluntary simplicity realize the problems are systemic. The problems can be partially solved in isolation, but the whole system needs to be repaired.
Not everyone who practices voluntary simplicity lives the same lifestyle. There are generally some common goals though: Don't consume more than you have to. Live lightly upon the Earth. Don't waste resources, money, etc. Don't go into debt (or if you're in debt, work on getting out. See Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin). Spend time on things that are meaningful to you and that you truly enjoy, i.e., don't spend your life being a slave to your job. Spend time connecting with Nature. Spend time with friends and family and in your community. These are the things life is supposed to be about. Not watching tv, being stuck in traffic, and shopping.
Voluntary Simplicity Resources
Voluntary simplicity is an amorphous topic, and some of these links are more strictly relevant than others. Some of the sites are about living a simple life; others are about anti-consumerism, environmental justice, fighting corporate dominance...it's all connected, and therefore I have not tried to separate them into separate lists. As the problems are systemic, the solutions must be systemic.
Reading List -- I've compiled this list over time. I've read all the books on it (and watched the three videos). I'll continue to add books to the list as I finish reading them, and when I do I'll note that the list has been updated.
The Simple Living Network
Take Back Your Time Day
The New Road Map Foundation
Clay and Judy Woods' homepage
Roger J. Wendell's Voluntary Simplicity Web Page
ShawnMichel -- Rebellion, Life, Love
"Young adults slowing down, leaving the rat race behind"
Reverend Billy & the Church of Stop Shopping
Environmental Research Foundation
Vote To Impeach George W. Bush
Low-Impact Living Initiative
America Needs Dirt
Green Party of the United States
International Community for Ecopsychology
Ecological Footprint Quiz
Other Sites that Illustrate how Mentally Ill Our Culture Is
Good Bush | Bad Bush
"Neurotically Yours" Fat-kins Diet Cartoon
Free Speech: Use It or Lose It
What You Can't Say
rat haus reality, ratical branch
Waking up to the Tragedy of New Orleans
America by the numbers: No. 1?
NOW Transcript: Bill Moyers Interviews David Suzuki
I Blame The Patriarchy
"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell
Remember: If you disagree with me, don't come after me with a torch and a pitchfork! Just make your own website.
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