This is a rant!
Our world is complex in almost every way. It demands our attention and thoughtful analysis. I suspect, like us, each of you can see problems in both our nation's and world's systems. Just last evening we had a small experience at a National Forest campground that was disturbing. We love our National Forests and their campgrounds are our favorites, until they are privatized. Then costs go up, service goes down and maintenance is neglected. We find this trend of privatizing our public lands and public facilities disturbing.
Some of the system problems, like privatizing our public lands, are mostly just annoying --- at least in their early stages, but as they become more entrenched they contribute, piece by piece, to bigger systemic problems. If we desire to be good citizens, challenging these small changes, and other more looming changes, becomes important. Much of our Thistle driving time, as you can well imagine, is digging into one topic after another similar to this one. And then deciding what to do about it...
Last year we were stunned at the number of snowbirds in the Yuma vicinity as we traveled the southerly route from California to Arizona. We'd heard stories about snowbird migration but the sheer numbers amazed us. There are thousands and thousands of large fancy rigs parked side-by-side under palm trees, along golf courses, and around tennis courts and swimming pools. These migrating RVers head south for the winter and back north for the summer.
Our culture provides a ready made model for living our lives --- school, work, religion, marriage, children, home ownership, retirement. Questioning the cultural prescription for any of these takes time and thought. Stepping away from the norm is difficult and can be risky. Family and friends might shun us. For retired folks questioning takes no less effort. Our culture tells us seniors to be good consumers, but otherwise to sit down and stay out from under foot.
This year, as we pulled into Parker, Arizona, along the Colorado River, the same winter migration we'd observed in Yuma was evident here as well. From Parker to Lake Havasu there was one RV park after another lining the Colorado River.
We camped at Buckhorn State Park, designed for huge rigs needing full hookups. Here is our tiny Thistle, not needing hookups at all, next to a RV bus and their tow car.
The pleasures of the snowbird population seem to hang on cultural expectations. The toys of the snowbirds are on full display. As well as the huge rigs they drive, large barbecues, boats, ATV's and outdoor furnishings are all dislayed in abundance. RV windows have a constant TV blue glow. Obesity is endemic.
We look around in horror. The cultural model of spend more, have more, live bigger, eat more is having serious consequences on our earth and our earth's people. We search for answers. A friend building homeless shelters and yet another designing small sustainable homes help us see housing solutions. A neighbor giving up her automobile for health, her own and the earth's, showed us the need to rethink transportation. Simple things like walking more, recycling, eating less, solar power, buying local, using less water, or driving an energy efficient automobile encourage us. Small efforts that make huge differences...
"Take money out of politics" is the standard refrain these days. We hear over and over in political discussions, "Corporate money has corrupted our politicians, our system." We huff and puff around with our outrage. We know the villian. It's big money. It's corporate power. It's them....
The political system has been bought off, yes, but so have each of us. We have bought into lifestyles that are not sustainable. Each of us has the power to change this at a very personal level. If our politicians are corrupted by the corporations so are we. With garages stuffed and bodies bursting, none of us can plead innocent to corruption by corporate offerings.
Below is how our towns look, from one end of the country to another, sometimes with mountains, or trees or oceans, but no matter where, this look couldn't be uglier or less sustainable. We can thank corporate America for ruining our towns but we bought in, just like our politicians. There's enough guilt to go around...
We could, each of us, one-by-one, begin a revolution of change. Not a revolution of guns and tanks but a revolution of simplification and local shopping. By so doing we could take power back from the big guys who own us, and who own our politicians. If we do not buy-in it's over...
"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
~ Francis of Assisi