Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kings and Queens

Take something good, and twist it into something bad. This is the technique used by evil to corrupt and lead astray. The scary thing is that us humans have been tricked into doing this to each other (although some demented people to this intentionally.)

I recently read an interesting article ( about the food we eat. While it was not breaking news to me that the food I eat isn't all its cracked up to be, I was taken aback by how dire the situation really is. I was further angered by the fact that I have given into this mentality and system without much thought.

GOOD: We are made in the image of God and so we want to be like him. We want to be treated like Kings and Queens (or perhaps princes and princesses since God is the King) and there is nothing wrong with that. We DO deserve dignity and respect, honor and praise (if we follow The King that is)

TWIST: Since we all (or most of us anyway) have a desire to treated like royalty, we can be convinced that we should be served instead of having to serve. In this day and age we aren't bold enough to think that people should serve us (slavery prevents most of that), but we still want the benefits of servitude - service. It has been often masked as "convenience." (note: there is nothing inherently evil about service or convenience, but thay can be used for bad ends)

We are a society that seems to crave good service and high convenience. This is the link to the article I mentioned above (food in America these days). Like the kings of old, we don't want to have to grow, gather, and prepare our own food. We have more important things to do, like ruling a kingdom or watching American Idol (or whatever the latest TV fad is). We don't want to be bothered with manual labor - some of us have to do that at work which is bad enough, we don't want to have to do it at home as well. Some of us have white collar jobs and God forbid if we ever have to do very much manual labor during our lives. There is a general sentiment in America that we are such an advanced society, that there is no reason we should have to do manual labor.

It has been long known that people crave service and convenience. Marketers and advertisers have been exploiting this attribute ever since they existed. The key in America was to make the royal lifestyle accessible to the average person. With the laws as they are, the only way to make it achievable was to make it cheap enough for the average person to afford. Most people cannot afford to hire a housekeeper, a butler, and a cook. So instead we refined the mass production of goods so that nearly anyone could afford them - like bread, milk, butter, meat processing, and all the other things discussed in the article.

So why do we voluntarily put this bad food into our systems? Because it is easier than doing it the "old-fashioned" way. Who wants to roll out their own dough every day and pick peas from the pod (from the garden out back), spending the entire day cooking and cleaning, when they can run to the store and grab a loaf of bread and can of peas in ten minutes? It's a dangerous combination of time saving and labor saving. We would rather be doing what we want (whether that be lounging around or doing other work) than "stuck" in the kitchen preparing meals. Deep down we want to know that we are more than a cook, a housekeeper, a butler - we want to know that we are in charge of our own time and our own lives; we want to feel as if we are capable of much more than those things. (Part of the problem is that we never have respected and valued those manual labor jobs enough - they are looked down upon - and who wants to be looked down upon?)

So we save time and respect by buying our processed bread (pre-sliced for our convenience) and our canned foods, and we prepare dinner in less than 30 minutes so we can sit back and enjoy an episode of Lost. Ah, life in America is good. Too bad we're slowly killing ourselves with the food we eat. I think living a healthy balanced life is worth turning off the tube and spending a few hours preparing a meal and enjoying it with people who can appreciate the hard work and effort. It's either that or I'll have to find a job that makes enough money to afford a family cook.

Monday, June 04, 2007

More of the pieces of the puzzle

Well, it has been 6 weeks since I have posted anything on my blog, so it's time to blog once again.

In my never ending quest to see the whole tapestry of the mindset of modern day Americans and the problems we face, I had a tiny epiphany today. It all started when I was about to eat lunch. I decided that I would like to eat outside because it is so dang nice out today. Then I was thinking that it would be a great day for a walk, because God knows I needs more exercise. I was thinking about the delicate balance of work or exercise (labor/expending of energy) and food consumption. I had a fleeting thought of how much I ate and the quality of food I ate (or lack thereof) when I was a kid and the cell division process of growth that was burning up energy like it was going out of style. I could eat almost anything and everything just to keep my normal processes going. Now that I am older and cell division has slowed to an adult level, I find that I need to make an attempt at finding a new balance of energy I'm putting in vs. energy I'm expending. After that fleeting moment I thought of how much exercise people got "back in the day" (aka. before 1600 - or in this country, before 1900).

Life was pretty much agricultural and men spent most of their day out in the fields working the land (by the way, I LOVE working with the soil - must be a leftover from creation). Men ate a lot of food, plenty of meat, potatoes and vegetables - 3 meals a day (sometimes 4). But because they were expending so much energy, the needed a lot of food. But what about the old Roman senators? Or the ancient Greeks and their philosophers? Or Kings and nobility of the days of old? Thinking doesn't expend nearly as much energy as labor! How did they maintain their energy balance? Well, some of them didn't - and simply became obese. (For a time obesity meant that a person was well to do and thus worth having as a spouse!) But what about the "average weight" people of the thinking occupations of old? Well, walking was a common form of transportation, as was horse riding which expends more energy than driving a car. Many of them had hobbies like hunting or fishing. Many of them played active games and such. I don't claim to know exactly what these people all did, but since they were normal humans, they must have done SOMETHING to keep their energy in balance. So I went for a walk today.

Anyway, that whole thought process took about 45 seconds and led to my new epiphany. Back in the "the day," due to lack of technology, communication was much slower and much less frequent. The average person (land worker class) didn't have access to world news, or often not even regional news, sometimes not even local news. Obviously people talked at community gatherings and in the local markets, so news did have a way of traveling. But what was rumor and what was real? Or did it really even matter to them? I'll bet they often just simply didn't care unless the news directly affected them (like an army is on the move and the are coming through town and will probably take all the local food for free or minimal compensation type news). But overall there was no Internet for breaking news or nightly news programs summing all the local, regional, and world news of interest. They took what they got and went about their lives. In a certain way, I admire their simplicity and ignorance. They didn't bother themselves with things that didn't have to do with them or things that were out of their control. They trusted that the nobility would take care of the big things that needed taking care of. They might not have always liked or agreed with the course of action of the local magistrate, but they focused on the task at hand - plowing the field. Life was simple and allowed for a certain amount of freedom that we no longer enjoy as individuals.

Look at us now. Knowledge is power and Information is Knowledge. Most Americans have access to major media sources (mass amounts of information), and so we think that we should have power. We stay up on current events so that we can... what? We stay tuned to the OJ car chase because... why? We get mad when Russia threatens to aim missiles at Europe because America is trying to help protect them because... why? To what end? Are we trying to gain information to make better and more informed decisions? Decisions about what? Do we really have any power or authority to do anything about these things that we watch so intently? Really? Do we trust the people we elected to make these decisions? Can we do anything about it before this particular event has passed? If we can't really do anything about it, why not just make a mental note (or actual note) about what it is that we really disagree with and move on without letting ourselves get caught up in the fury of the moment?

There is something we can learn from the people of old - don't get caught up in things that don't lead anywhere useful/helpful. Back in the day, people didn't elect their noble person. But they did learn to live without getting angry at every decision that wasn't agreeable. In fact, they didn't see their role as an evaluating and judging role at all. It was their role to live as best they could on what they were given. Something that is much lacking in today's culture. We often put ourselves in judgement of every decision made by our elected officials (or for everything it sometimes seems), and we declare our personal verdict and sentence people to condemnation (socially) and carry out our sentence - judge, jury, and executioner all in one. Who are we in America that gives us the right or authority to live like this? We are like 1 billion individual judges constantly scrutinizing every local, regional, and global decision, as if we know all the facts and are better at judging the whole of the situations? We act like a country of Kings and Queens all competing for control of the throne. Many people are OK with letting someone else sit on the throne (the seat takes all the blame), so long as we get to dictate what is promulgated from the throne. As long as we get our way, everything is OK. We are a country of arrogant people, all the while thinking we are victims of the government and of life around us. (By the way, not everyone is like this, but I exaggerate to make a point...)

This revelation caused me to rethink how I think. I need to evaluate the world around me less and deal with my own problems more. I am going to watch less media and purposely get out of touch with things out of my control. I'm sure I'll hear news the old fashioned way - hanging out with others, hearing a radio or TV as I take a walk, overhearing conversations at the local market, etc. But if I focus on the things I am responsible for, I won't have a lot of time to focus on things that I have elected other people to be responsible for. When elections come around, I'll pay attention and do research on the candidates and see if I agree with their track record. But until then, I'll trust them to do their job and I'll stick to mine, just like the people of old.