Sunday, October 07, 2012

working together...

This morning I listened to part of Humankind, a radio program that fosters a better relationship between human beings, each other and the planet. That radio program would cause some conservatives to shiver, and its availability would be the reason many hard-core Republicans want to shoot big bird in the head. Public radio, and public television often remind us that we are here on the planet to work together, a notion inconsistent with the idea of winner take all and screw the 47 percent.

 In any case, this morning's program was the second in a series on the Diet-Climate Connection and dealt with community gardens. Two that were featured were in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and participants and founders made the point that they were not just growing food, but that they were growing communities, and growing themselves. The understanding of relationship that can come when one actually gets dirty in service of others can have profound effect.

 I woke up having had dreams of friends engaged in a serious attempt to put pieces together into something more beautiful. Working in my own shop, I can take pieces of rough, ugly wood, and reshape and fit it into more beautiful and useful form. When we get down in the dirt to work with others, things become more complex. Right off the bat, I know I've thrown a few off the bus, so to speak, by mentioning conservative politics. Those persons strongly identifying themselves as conservative stopped reading at the first lines and are now fuming at me, and not listening to a word I've said since. But true conservatism knows the interdependent relationships we have with each other and our need to conserve planetary resources.

The real point is not what we say, but what we do. As one community garden founder stated clearly, when folks cross that line and enter the garden, get the gloves on or hands dirty, differences fade, and real work is done, that when successful raises crops, but even when failing  raises individuals, and lifts them to conform to highest ideals of humankind.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous11:50 AM

    As a liberal perhaps you can tell me how anyone is entitled to any of the fruits of my labor by force?

  2. No one is entitled to the fruits of your labor except that the government has the right to tax and provides benefits, even to you. Are you safe in your community? Were you educated by it? Do you not feel any responsibility to others?

    Perhaps you are a self-made man, a rugged individualist, living alone in a mountain pass by the wits of your own labor, but if you happen to live in a community, perhaps you would like to participate in it and make things better in some way for your fellow man, and those less competent and gifted than yourself.

    Or perhaps not.

  3. You are espousing voluntary cooperation while nastily dismissing those of us who prefer it to the coercive, confiscatory fist of government. You speak of harmony and charity while denigrating a whole segment of society who's core philosophy you wont even deign to investigate.

    Anyhoo, I was searching online for a fine woodworker based in Arkansas. I live in downtown Rogers, and thanks to that spirit of governmentally enforced community you are so fond of we are in the process of having our hundred year old trees hacked apart for the sake of infrastructure - ah! infrastructure! - improvements. In the name of the collective good I am faced with losing precious private property in the form of a gorgeous red maple that was probably planted around the time our home was built in 1906. Its only crime is that it resides within 12' of the power lines that line our street. Our neighbors have been informed that we have no rights whatsoever and will receive no compensation for the loss of our trees or the resulting damage to our property values due to the haphazard defacing the trimmers have done (and they have done a truly, truly ugly job of it). I want to harvest this tree and sell the wood to someone who will turn it into something beautiful, useful and long lasting.

    You may think that, because I am someone who both distrusts the government and is weary of its handling of livelyhood confiscated from the hardworking and creative, that I have this coming. But would you have your creativity harnessed and put to use only for the good of men like these who would so crassly destroy not only precious trees but the beauty of an entire historic downtown neighborhood, or for the cronies at the power company and trimming company who have our wise, elected overlords in their back pocket? They have this power only because those who feel they have a better, more broad-minded world view (such as yourself) created a government with enough strength to allow it to happen. That is how our current "common good" welfare society works, and how it has always turned out from time immemorial. These men are the ones less competent and gifted than yourself, of which you speak. Would you not rather share your gifts, both in commerce and charity, on a voluntary basis with those who appreciate it, and will therefor benefit the most from it? Pearls before swine and all that.

  4. Don't you think a middle path would be better than one of extremes? The Republicans have painted all taxation as extreme, but as long as we've had governments, they have taken property and resources from the people and have given back. I have lived here long enough to know that the government and power companies can be hard on trees, and I often hate what they do in narrowmindedness. Carroll Electric seems to be one of the worst, in that they rarely listen to the citizenry and make participation by members impossible.

    I'm not advising anyone to just roll over and consent to government malfeasance. But to paint all collective action monitored by democratic processes as wrong is another form of narrowmindedness.

    And who says, I haven't looked at "a whole segment of society who's core values (I) won't even deign to investigate?"

    Conservatives including leadership in the Republican party have thrown around inflammatory rhetoric like socialist, and fascist while our current level of government intrusion and taxation are lower than those espoused by Eisenhower, who started construction of the interstate highway system, and took down more trees and used eminent domain far more than what is being done currently in Northwest Arkansas. Was Eisenhower a socialist? Or a fascist?

    Do you ever drive on 540? or 412? It took a lot of property that was pretty danged beautiful before the landowners were thrown off and the bulldozers began work. Personally, I wish we could go back to forests and pastures, and community gardens, and appreciation for nature. There is lots to get worked up about. But getting pissed at me won't solve anything.

  5. An interesting little thread.
    For society to work there have to be some rules . History tells us that waiting for people to voluntary contribute does not work that well .So for the good and benifit of all, monies have to be collected to carry out the works required to make society as safe and pleaseant as possible for all in society .
    Government is not some abstract thing . It is us we are the government .
    To blame the government for triming a tree which is growing to near a power line is somewhat wonky thinking ?
    The reason that there is a clear corridor along power line routes is nothing to do with pandering to power companies . It is about providing power to everyone, trees fall on and short out powerlines and lack of power causes great inconvience to us the customer . So sensible rules are drawn up for the good and benifit of all ( I presume your draw power and are not on your own generator? ). Such regulations do not normaly come out of thin air but are the result of much debate and many meetings . You could have trimmed back the tree yourself so as to be compliant .
    Urban trees growing out of context are a massive problem around the world.
    Being a member of society requires participation and being able to look at the big picture.

  6. Kevin, I am certainly amazed by those who've painted government as a bunch of confiscatory villains moochers and predators. Here in Eureka Springs, we all love our trees, but if the power is out due to a limb falling on lines, the wholetown is in a panic to have the thing fixed asap.

    So, why the heck can't folks see that some kind of balanced approach is necessary? Public broadcasting actually (at least our local NPR affiliate) gets less than 11% of its funding from state and federal sources. Yet, with the lion's share of its operating funds coming from viewer contributions, Republicans (particularly of the tea party persuasion) seem to think it is sucking directly from their personal wallets. And if they feel that way about NPR, just imagine how they might feel about libraries.

    Funny, how this blog attracts a few folks to do a bit of reading outside of their comfort zone, and then they get mad at me for not being Fox News.

  7. Keith Smith10:38 AM

    I feel obliged to comment on this thread. You paint conservatives as anti-government and that is simply not true. It is the size and scope of it that I find unacceptable. In your response to the first comment you confuse government and charity. Taxes do provide for a common infrastructure and that is their limit, they are not to provide fodder for redistribution as politicians see fit. In fact there is a document which sets forth these duties of government. And why you lambast individual achievement I have no idea. Any involvement I have in my local community, donating time or resources, is my decision alone, to come from the heart, not from a decree from someone else by threat of power of government.
    The reason taxation has become such a negative issue is because it never seems to stop. Since the sixties we have run a deficit, except for a few years in the nineties, and the politicians on both sides keep asking for more. If taxes are raised to attempt to cover current spending, what is to stop them from raising spending? Is that so extreme? Current government spending (local, state, and federal) accounts for 42% of the GDP. I believe that is too much. You also make the statement that we act like the funding for NPR comes out of our personal does. Why not let it stand on it's own? It will either make up the funding from donations or it will cut services, just like the rest of the real functions. And for the record, I love libraries, I find value in reading this blog, and I watch Fox News.

  8. Keith, I don't confuse government and charity. I do think that there are some things that government needs to do that cross the line that most conservatives draw in the sand. For instance, I think it would be more reasonable to extend Medicare coverage to children and gradually work our way down to universal coverage. Some conservatives think that national defense should be the only reasonable area for the government to act.

    There are differences where we might choose to draw the line, but I find many conservatives ready to do battle with me, and jump the gun on misinterpreting every word I say just because I've said it.

    As a liberal, I was upset that Bush took my tax dollars to spend on an unnecessary, elective war in Iraq. Going to war under falsified circumstances was like slashing our wrists. But every conservative on record but a few were gung-ho for that unfunded war, paid for by deficit spending and borrowing from China. And then they complain about a small amount of funding for Big Bird.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could simply talk about things without emotional charge? So far I've been accused of being dismissive, denegrating a whole segment of society, and painting conservatives as "anti-government".

    How are we going to have quality libraries without some level of government support? I don't like paying taxes any more than most. But not everything I make should be kept by me, nor does it belong to me. I receive many benefits from being a part of society and as a reasonable folks, me might want to stop complaining about paying our shares, and do more to make things work better. Parts of that have to do with charitable giving, volunteerism, but there are many things that the government can do best. Some conservatives have proclaimed all government workers including teachers as being moochers. Personally, I would feel better about the current crop of conservatives if they could back off from their accusations and have more reasoned conversations. We might get somewhere.