Enjoy those simple pleasures

A special place in the Museum of Journalism should be allocated to enshrine page 7 of the March 12 Mountain Xpress. I don’t know Cicada Brokaw (Asheville), Reb Knight (Mars Hill) or Lisa Bain Landis (Brevard), but their letters to the editor, published alongside the full-color notice of the Grand Opening of the Sky Loft development, are an astonishingly clear statement of our human condition expressed with almost Zen-like precision.

Cicada [“Fossil Fuel Conundrum”] pleads for reduction of our carbon footprint and urges us to stick around the neighborhood and live from the resources immediately surrounding our homes. While not guaranteed to save the endangered polar bear, there is an implied quid pro quo: If we can change the way we live, some inhabitants of the world will have a better shot at survival. Who can argue with this position?

Of course, it is slightly delusional to think our dumpster diving and organic back-yard victory gardens will scrub the atmosphere of the belching of the industrial furnaces of America, Europe and the overheated Far East—or affect, well, anything really, beyond our own sense of self-righteousness. But for all the impotence inherent in these feckless acts of abstention, I, too, favor the simple life, minimal consumption and community networks.

Reb’s point [“Learn to Add, America”] is even less assailable. This war sucks. It sucks the life out of thousands of people, destroys families and communities, steals money from our treasury, drains education and health funding and accomplishes nothing beyond permitting the Iranian president to arrive in motorcade pomp at the Presidential Palace. I agree, but stand as part of a nation that has re-elected a murderous, greedy crew and sends representatives to Congress who cannot put an end to torture or the suspension of the most basic of our rights as free citizens.

Then there’s Lisa, citing the Declaration of Independence (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”)—however unfortunate in the current context. Life has been seriously compromised by carcinogens, poisoned air and water, religious fanaticism and simple, universal greed. Liberty is severely restricted by those operating the levers of power to their own benefit, and the pursuit of happiness, after all, is what got us into this pickle in the first place.

I [do] endorse her core position: that “we cannot do it alone, but we can do it together.” However—doing it together is not about putting together a Guinness Book of Records pot-luck dinner. We have reached so far past the tipping point that nothing we turn to has an unassailable, beneficent effect on the inevitable course of evolution.

We have simply played out our hand, and it’s time to cash in our chips and get out of the way. In the meantime, while respectfully mourning the passing of the wallaby and polar bear, the frogs, butterflies and birds who once accompanied our sojourning on this planet, by all means let us rejoice that we live in Asheville and can, for now, enjoy these mountains and rivers, the music and good coffee and each other from time to time. Thank God for Bach, banjos, bluegrass and rock-and-roll. The time is 11:57.

— Gene Senyak

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