Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Impractical versus the Practical and knowing where each fits into our lives.

Hand knitted garments and similar are lovely for a number of reasons / But don't mistake them for being practical everyday fare.

In other words we must order our environment to fit the existing environment.

Jule, my wife, spent the morning researching chickens on the internet. We live in a suburban area where a cow simply isn’t practical, although goats could be.

She wants chickens because of the eggs, but yet she talks of their personalities, talking of them as pets. Which is very different from my childhood where I used to listen to my mother who grew up on a farm in eastern Colorado talk of animals on the farm. True, they would trade hogs and such with their neighbors because the creatures became like pets.

But the hogs and chickens and cows and so forth were their livelihood, not their pets. She also grew up with an outhouse, and a water pump with hot water heated on a stove where everyone shared the same bathwater for the once a week bath. They had rats that would get into the house and bite the children and when the hail came, it meant putting cardboard into the soles of their shoes to make them last another season.

Not that life was different on the farms, in the town of Stratton people lived the same way. And there are still a few holdouts who still live that way shunning the new modern living. But how many of us would willingly choose to live that way? And likewise all that also goes with living that way?

When my son had bacterial meningitis I was glad for the advanced Children’s Hospital intensive care unit that saved his life. When I had cancer, I was glad for the advances in chemotherapy without which I would be long since dead.

The mixing of the primitive with the advanced goes well in science fiction, but not so well in real life where they’re incompatible. A backyard garden and orchard are good, as is are chickens for their eggs. But they are all more akin to pets than to livelihood. We’re not dependent on them, nor are they sufficient to offset our needs. Just as hand looms are not sufficient to provide for our needs unless we want to live as primitives.

Knitting and sewing and similar are lost arts where only those who are naturally gifted at them are able to do them because girls no longer grow up practicing and perfecting them. But those garments are lovely accessories to our everyday wear. My daughters have some lovely hand knitted dresses and similar, but the everyday garment are mass produced machine made because that is what is practical.

We can combine the primitive with mass production if we keep in mind where each one fits. But mistaking the primitive for being practical is an error because mass production is what gives us the goods to live in our modern world, so we don’t have to live as my mother did growing up.

For those of you who choose to join the holdouts, good for you, but don’t expect the intensive care unit to still be functioning when you need it for your child if everyone else chooses the same primitive life as you. As you sow, so shall you reap.

I grew up in surrounded by a milieu of pets, not farm animals, along with being surrounded by natural foods and similar from my mother starting and running the first natural foods grocery store and first natural foods restaurant in Denver gave me an appreciation of a holistic life that naturally lead me to see Catholicism as the True Faith because it answered every question left unanswered. That environment also gave me a first hand appreciation of the practical on a business level versus stars in the eyes impractical.

What is needed is a practical means of living as close to the earth as possible, while recognizing that we do need modern medicine, and the like.

1 comment:

  1. One feature that I think you may have lost sight of is that an agrarian economy may actually be a necessity to encourage virtue, and not simply a trinket.