Instead today's blog post is inspired by an email I received from one of my readers. It's true, someone did write in and ask I write a blog in response to their existential question. So this week you get my absurd existential musings on my reader's self. You know how much I love to please my readers...so here we go!
[Dear wonderful Andrea, your blog is so awesome. Please help me understand the thoughts that plague my mind!]
am writing in haste, but basically that our culture's obsession with constant "growth and development" might mask an essential discontent, an inability to remain stable.
[From your faithful reader, Victor of BC]
Thank you so much Victor of BC for your letter, as you know I do love to hear from my readers, as it is a reminder of how important it is to have good blog writing in one's life.
First off, I would like to point out that in your haste you forgot to include a salutation and ending to your letter, which I have added so graciously for you. You are welcome. And yes, I forgive you.
Next, you do not give me much to go on, so I made some assumptions in the interpretation of your letter, all of which have been noted below. I apologize in advance if I have misunderstood anything. [It is unlikely that I have misunderstood anything but I like to add a disclaimer so you know that if I did in fact misunderstand I would be very apologetic about it. That is how much I care about you.]
Now onto the relentless dissection of your hastily written letter.
our culture's obsession with constant "growth and development" might mask an essential discontent, an inability to remain stable.
"our culture's obsession" you suggest that you and I share the same culture, obviously you do not mean a shared culture on an individual smaller scale level, like Christian culture, so clearly you mean culture at a higher level, like general society which is made up of all peoples and their various religious, spiritual or atheist belief systems. Culture is not necessarily restricted by geographical area but judging from the rest of your letter and reference to "growth and development" as the defining feature of "our culture's obsession" I'm led to conclude we are speaking about "capitalist" culture, which is a dominant North American feature of society, with lots of variation within. So we are not so much talking about the variations (such as those who are opposing the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline for instance, as we can't really say those folks are subscribing to a growth and development dominant cultural ideology) but the bigger society. The whole not the sum of its parts.
So what you are really asking is our culture's hyper focus on capitalism really just to mask our essential discontent and inability to remain stable?
We are in a capitalist society, agreed. Not sure how obsessed we all are with promoting growth and development but it does seem that most businesses measure success that way, and we probably do when it comes to our investments, our careers, our families etc.,. Not sure about us being obsessed with it however, i have met individuals and have read about certain corporations that seem to focus on these things at the expense of their health and the health of others. So yeah, I will agree with you there.
I do not agree that humans are essentially discontented by nature; however, I do believe that humans are probably displaying a certain level of discontent when they become obsessed (addicted) with the "growth and development" aspects of capitalism. I would argue that any obsession or addiction would be the symptom of some discontent within us. We form addictions to fill the empty void inside of us, left by a society that values money and status more than compassionate and empathetic and loving connections with one another. So we are in agreement there!
Now for the connection between essential discontent and inability to remain stable. I guess if one is discontented they could never really be stable. Contentment would breed stability. Unless of course you mean stable as equatable to no growth and no change, like fixed, or stagnant, which of course I just cannot define it as such, as we are always changing every second of every day. Illustrated by the fact that you have been aging ever since the day you were born and you will die one day. So I can only assume you are defining stable as in some sort of health way, like a stable medical condition or not easily upset or disturbed.
So in sum, what you are really suggesting is if a culture forms an addictive relationship with something (building lots of suburban homes for example) this is because it has a deep empty void within it (there is a sadness among the people who make up this culture), the culture (the people who make up the culture) try desperately to fill their emptiness to feel something (more suburbs makes for an ever changing skyline and constant external stimulus to distract us from our sadness and emptiness we feel inside us) and because you can never fill the void with things (you need love, which surprise, suburban homes do not give us) this will bring about the fall of society as we know it.
i might consider using the metaphor of a stable village, which we do not see around here, versus the subdivided, hastily-developed suburbs that presently surround us.
However, I'm not sure I agree that smaller is essentially more stable... As you suggest in your next sentence with the metaphor of the stable village vs the hastily-developed suburbs. Now don't misunderstand. I hate the suburbs! I hate urban sprawl, i dislike immensely the cookie cutter style of home that pollutes the suburban landscape. I think what you are really advocating for is more high-density living spaces without sacrificing green-space would be better step for us as a society to take. Especially if the world is going to insist on continuing to procreate, unless of course you are suggesting we stop procreating?! And in that case I'm happy to write my next blog post on the benefits of a celibate lifestyle.
Then you continue with:
Why can't our municipalities remain stable? Why can't we, ourselves?
So, it appears to me you have the misfortune of living in a municipality that subscribes to the concrete jungle mentality, the never ending sprawl that ruins the beauty of our precious landscapes. And for that I'm truly sorry. Because that sucks.
However, since culture is made up of people and that includes you and I. I believe perspective is everything. Having moved from an urban wasteland of the Southern Ontario variety, and settling here in Victoria I have to say I find it very village like. Sure there are lots of people which technically by census standards does not make it a village. I do find that there are several neighbourhoods in Victoria that act like proxies for the village I think you speak of. And I like it. Everything I need is within walking distance, I know most of my neighbours and local businesses and I feel very content here. Is it stable? Crazy large earthquakes aside, I would say yes, sure some of the people may not be and depending on which ex-boyfriend of mine you talk to, i may not be either; however, I don't feel discontent, now that I have Jesus in my life (sorry had to drop the J-bomb). Part of that village mentality is forced upon Victoria because it is a city surrounded by water. That alone makes it impossible for Victoria to grow horizontally, such like the urban sprawl of other surrounding areas and instead the only way we can grow is vertically. Part of the reason for all the condos here I would say.
I get that if you are not from an area of the world that is used to paving over every green space (cough...Southern Ontario) these condos may just be another sign of our culture's obsession with growth and development.
So are our municipalities a reflection of ourselves? Yes. We the people make up our little villages, even when we live in big cities (which Victoria is not although relative to the rest of the island it is massive!) we still have our villages. Mine may be the condo building I live in. A small building (less than 30 units) because I would prefer to live in close-proximity to a small number of people versus living in a condo with 400 units. It is not that smaller is better it is simply my preference. We have our work circles, our friend circles and church circles--these are all villages. Are they stable? Depends on who we decide to surround ourselves with.
Sounds to me like you need to make a move out of the suburbs, and if you don't live in the suburbs and are just angry with capitalism in general and more people being born every day, I would suggest we take that energy and focus it somewhere positive, perhaps you could join your neighbourhood community association and speak up against all the negatives you see with development. Perhaps persuade others to join you in this righteous fight against the evils of capitalism (hi, where can I sign up?!).
Or you can do none of those things and keep writing to me about it because I do find it hard to come up with new blog material every week. Whatever you choose to do, know that you will be making a difference in someones life, whether it is the residents of your neighbourhood, your various villages you inhabit, or my lovely blog readers (if anything that should warm the cockles of your heart!).
|The actual village I want to join (3 more years!)|
|And my fallback village (Jerusalem ♥)|