Stop sustaining greed and fear

I am pretty jazzed about the opportunities we have coming our way in this unsustainable world of the ultra-consumer. It’s true we don’t have many options except radical change, but the good news is that what we’ll gain is much better than what we’ll lose. …

What we’ll be losing: sprawl, overeating and obesity, TV absorption, neighborly isolation, citizen apathy, long commutes, aversion to manual labor—to name a few.

What we’ll be gaining: the best of small-town living, knowing what good food is and appreciating having enough, knowing and relying on your neighbors, active participation by more citizens, working closer to home and the pride that comes from improving the world with your hands.

So why is everyone so upset? Oh, might it be painful? Scared of the unknown?

Americans, generally speaking, have an incredibly low pain threshold—perhaps because the media has been so successful in capturing our attention with the most fearful scenarios possible … with intentions and usage guided by some of our basest impulses of greed, lust and fear because this attracts the most people, which increases ad revenue—another thing to look forward to losing.

Change can be uncomfortable. Yet we are not total cowards. I am confident that we still retain a large portion of red-blooded willingness to suffer for the common good. Once in a while, even some of our leaders show a glimmer of hope (hint). Once we get used to new ideas, we do adapt; and once we’re done being scared and depressed, we sometimes find that life carries on with new, unexpected opportunities—even seemingly miraculous occurrences. …

On a big scale, the things that work well do so because we tend to be reasonable and prefer order to chaos. We still have many injustices and inequities, but we don’t have death squads, most cops aren’t on the take, building codes are enforced and—in the end—we are smarter than we appear.

Sustainability is the big buzzword these days, taking over from the much-abused “green,” thank God. Even though no one has a solid answer on its meaning, we are seeing with our eyes and feeling in our gut what is unsustainable, and that tends to be things we will probably do fine without. From here, it seems that the best and most sustainable things are free, available to all and have been here all along.

My list: Freedom, civil dialogue, community spirit, enjoyment of health, hard work, prayer, reading, walking and camping in nature, enjoyment of simple food, comedy, baseball, gardening, cats and dogs, great music and art, hot water, love and, of course, sex.  What more do you want?

— Bevan Suits
Asheville

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37 thoughts on “Stop sustaining greed and fear

  1. William P Miller

    Ah…if we could wave a magic wand and “change” everything to be perfectly what we envision as the good life. What a world we would have. Just takes the courage to change, huh?

    I hate to throw water on your parade, but the world just doesn’t work that way. I have close to 60 years of life experience under my belt. I have seen the Soviet Union try to make a worker’s paradise. The price? Complete loss of personal freedom. And they gave up their freedom for what? Long lines to get a loaf of bread, substandard housing, forced employment placement, etc. The Russian people were very unhappy. The alcoholism rate very high.

    In the early 1930s, a young man caught the attention of the populace in Europe. He was a very charasmatic speaker. He talked of change, big change, to put his people back on top in Europe. To end the high unemployment, high inflation, rampant unhappiness. His name? Adolph Hitler. The country? Germany. Charasmatic leaders do not a messiah make. Change is not always good.

    In order for Obama to change everything the way some of us want, a lot of personal sacrifices will have to be made. Number one being the loss of freedom, the loss of control over our own paychecks. And who is to say he wants to change things to the way we want? What if his vision is to change in another direction and we pay the price while others make out?

    Never, never allow a leader or government too much power. I know it is tempting to want to change things “for the better”, but unfortunately life just doesn’t work that way. A leader with too much power becomes corrupted by his power. Government bureaucracies become corrupted by too much power. And we people pay the price. I say, warts and all, keep the power with the people. Keep the government small. And let us each pursue our own happiness as we see fit. Sustainable-oriented vegetarians over here. McDonald’s going factory workers over here. Etc. Do your own thing, just don’t hurt someone else in the process. It could be that the system we now have is the best. It may need an occasional tweaking now and then, but by and large it is better than the alternative I have described above.

  2. Dionysis

    William P. Miller makes many assumptions along with outrageous analogies. The notion that because most people are sick and tired of politics as usual and want change is tantamount to the rise of the totalitarian Soviet Union is utter nonsense. And, in an effort to cover all bases, he plays the hand of a loser by trying to link Obama to Hitler. No one is projecting the persona of ‘messiah’ to Obama. What many see is someone who is trying to galvanize citizens to move past the factional bickering and inertia that has crippled the country’s ability to accomplish things that benefit the country as a whole.

    Using the typical Orwellian double-speak, Mr. Miller offers the vapid scare tactic that Obama wants to ‘reduce freedoms’, while ignoring the authoritarian, anti-democratic attacks on the very core of American ideals, the Constitution, by the Bush administration. He uses the collective ‘we’, as if the entire country shares his philosophy. They don’t. The one kernel of truth is the lamentation over what might happen to his ‘paycheck’. One likely difference would be that those tax dollars might stop flowing to Communist China and Japan to deficit fund continual war, but instead would be used to actually benefit citizens for a change.

    On this point: “And who is to say he wants to change things to the way we want?” The answer? Many, many people say this. That’s one reason why a poll taken yesterday (June 6) show Obama ahead of McSame in a national poll. Once the campaign gets in full force and the facts are presented that belie the obfuscatory double-talk of McSame (Phil Gramm; lobbyists influence; 95% pro-Bush voting record; flip-flopping on warrantless wiretapping, torture and tax cuts for the rich to name a few; the Keating scandal, his continued support of a disgraceful ‘war’ proven to have been foisted on the country by liars, his vow to the evangelical crowd of overturning Roe v. Wade, etc.), that gap will widen.

    “Never, never allow a leader or government too much power.”

    Yes, one just need look at the last eight years of Republicon acquiescence and rubber-stamping of Bush’s ‘unitary executive’ theory of executive aggrandizement of power and his disdain for Congress. How vocal have you been in opposing this power grab?

    “Government bureaucracies become corrupted by too much power.”

    True; just look at how the crass politicization of the Justice Department by the current criminal occupants of the White House to underscore this point. Projecting this onto Obama and the Democrats is humorous.

    “It could be that the system we now have is the best. It may need an occasional tweaking now and then, but by and large it is better than the alternative I have described above.”

    Yes, and it could be that the far side of the moon is really made of green cheese. The system we have now is broken, pure and simple. The power has been so far removed from “the people” as to be barely be recognized as a representative democracy. And the “alternative” you described is a work of alarmist fiction, with no substantiation whatsoever.

    I hate to break it to you, amigo, but your comments (and those of your ideological sidekick travelah) don’t come close to the effect of “throwing water” on peoples’ hopes and aspirations.

  3. donnytherealsoutherner

    William says that Obama is just like Hitler? But when ‘liberals’ compare Bush’s actions to that of Hitler, he attacks them with all his might for making , and I quote, “elitist, incendiary, childish comparisons”. (from a nam vet post from last fall)

    The double-speak and hypocrisy from William P Nam Vet and travelah is truly entertaining. Kudos, ya’ll. Keep up the good work making yourselves and your supposed position a joke to the rest of us on this blog.

    And way to prove the letter-writers point with your slimy, smear innuendo.

  4. travelah

    Dionysis, I actually liked the opening letter ( I might not agree with all of it). What are you talking about?

  5. William P Miller

    Wow, Dionysis, didn’t mean to get you so riled up. I am not saying that Barack Hussein Obama is equal to Hitler. What I am saying is that following a charasmatic leader because he promises yet undefined “change” can be dangerous. Hitler appeared fairly harmless in the beginning, but turned out to be a monster. Probably all that power that corrupted him.

    In order to make big changes, Obama will have take freedoms away. He will tell people to do things they may not want to do. He will definitely raise taxes. He will probably be all for Cap & Trade, which will ruin our economy. he won’t allow drilling for oil on own own land and we will remain dependent on other countries for our economy’s life blood.

    If you look back on world history over the last 100 years, you’ll see there were periods of peace and progress intermixed with periods of war and great suffering. We have had a long ride of peace in this country (as far as war on our own shores and as far as domestic freedom, wealth, and opportunity) and we have all grown complacent and a bit spoiled. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I wish the world wasn’t this way, but it has been in the past, and most likely will remain so in the future.

    In this country we have a lot of freedom. We can call the president every name in the book. We can protest till we can’t walk or shout any longer. In most countries of the world, you cannot do that. In Burma you will be shot if you protest. In Cuba, you will be put in jail for criticizing Castro. In Saudi Arabia, if you do or say the wrong things in public, you can have a limb or your head chopped off.

    Let us be careful to not “change” too much too fast. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And above all, let us not hang our future on one man just because he delivers good speeches. The government that can give you everything you need can take it all away.

    Freedom above all. Freedom to pursue happiness individually. I don’t need someone else telling me how to live my life. God bless the America of our forefathers!

    F R E E D O M is sustainability!

  6. Dionysis

    “Dionysis, I actually liked the opening letter ( I might not agree with all of it). What are you talking about?”

    What I was talking about, travelah, had nothing to do with you, but was in response to Mr. Miller’s post. Although I’m glad you liked the letter (and I’m not being snide).

  7. Dionysis

    “Hitler appeared fairly harmless in the beginning, but turned out to be a monster”

    I agree, but in modern terms, I would submit that Mr. Bush has turned from appearing “fairly harmless” to, if not a monster, at least a person that has cynically abrogated his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”, and has done so with an arrogance unmatched. I’m not equating Bush to Hitler as many of the left have done, but I am saying that he has done more damage to our freedoms than could ever be done by foreign terrorists.

    “If you look back on world history over the last 100 years, you’ll see there were periods of peace and progress intermixed with periods of war and great suffering. We have had a long ride of peace in this country (as far as war on our own shores and as far as domestic freedom, wealth, and opportunity) and we have all grown complacent and a bit spoiled. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I wish the world wasn’t this way, but it has been in the past, and most likely will remain so in the future.”

    I actually agree with this, as someone who has studied history myself, as well as having a degree in Government from one of this country’s top universities (and as well as having the maturity that comes with middle age). That is part of the reason that I am so concerned about the direction this country has taken during the last seven years. To me, there can be no higher expression of true patriotism than fealty to the U.S. Constitution. Ron Paul deserves praise in this regard, in my opinion.

    “let us not hang our future on one man just because he delivers good speeches.”

    I personally am not hanging the future on one man per se, nor do I think Obama supporters in general are doing this; what I think is happening is that Obama is seen as a catalyst to channel the ability of the American people to effectuate positive change in this country, and has the charisma to galvanize people to that end.

    “I don’t need someone else telling me how to live my life.”

    Nor do I, so we agree on that. Having spent the last 7.5 years being ostricized as ‘soft on terrorism’ or ‘unpatriotic’ for exercising the most fundamental right we have, freedom of speech, by the neo cons in power simply for disagreeing with administration policies brings home the need to sweep these cretins from the political landscape, and to neutralize their sycophants and apologists.

    I am not a Communist or Socialist. I believe in the free market and capitalism (although I think the inordinate influence of ‘big business’ needs to be reeled back in). However, I unapologetically hope to see this country take a decided turn to the left, which (in today’s environment) ironically would mean that some of the entrenched values of old school, mainstream conservatives would find renewed expression.

    A post of several weeks ago in this forum by a fellow called ‘true conservative’ nailed it on the head. And he ended his post by writing that “it’s time for a sea change; I’m voting for Obama.” I concur.

  8. donny

    Dio-Well written. I’m glad you post on here. It is a refreshing antidote to the fear-based nonsense of some of the more tenacious, CHAOtic posters on here.

    Thank you.

    donny

  9. AshaKasha

    Well- gotta throw my 2 cents in here.

    Hilter played on the fears of the masses (all along playing out his hidden agenda)- and they were all too quick to accept the promises and look the other way while (we all know what) took place. If anyone comes in and pulls one over on us like that, then we the people are to blame. The government has all the power we apathetically allow them to take, while we are busy buying things- and ignoring the rest of the world- or even the world right in front of our noses.

    I thought this letter was beautiful…and representative of many others’ thoughts.

    We still, individually, control our consumer dollar- and can choose how much we will commit to our community. We can choose to speak up and participate, or to stand idly by…look the other way…

    When my husband and I went from Peru to Bolivia in ’04, we found a town (Copacabana) completely shut down. No taxis, no restaurants, no buses, no stores, no hostels, nothing. We eventually found what appeared to be the entire town sitting in silence in the Plaza- two seeming leaders in the center talking quietly. We learned that there was a gas pipeline going from Peru through Bolivia and into Argentina, and that the Bolivian government had worked a deal to cut Bolivians out of profiting from it (simplified version of the situation). The folks in Copacabana (and in other touristed areas of Bolivia) were “sitting out” – sacrificing their livelihood- until 6 members of the government resigned their positions. Just the other day, I read an article stating that Bolivia had taken over rights to the pipeline. Some 4 years later… I was so inspired…and in a way ashamed that we Americans, with all our freedom, are willing to sacrifice nothing. When I got to Argentina, and went to the Sunday artists’ market, the first piece of art I saw was a picture of south america (painted to look like a heart) and a hand (painted as the american flag) squeezing the blood out of it.

    Obama promotes citizen participation and leadership- even going as far as to admit he won’t be able to accomplish anything without Americans standing up to join him in the fight.

    Get out and travel your world, folks. I was astonished to go to developing nations and find that shop owners, artists, peddlers, etc. knew more about my own government than I did. At some point (and I now wonder if this will ever happen) we have to be willing to do something ourselves, rather than just pushing everything on the government, the president, anyone else… Nothing good comes easy and true freedom isn’t free.

    William P. I disagree that things will always be so peachy keen for Americans. You are right that we have had an easy ride for some time. My sense is that the bandaid is about to get ripped off, and hopefully with it will come our rose-colored glasses.

    We have sacrificed community for individuality.

  10. travelah

    >i>I was so inspired…and in a way ashamed that we Americans, with all our freedom, are willing to sacrifice nothing.

    Having just recently honored our fallen soldiers during Memorial Day, I see a great many people who are willing to sacrifice their very lives to ensure that men such as Obama (who did not seem to know what day he was celebrating)to speak their minds and run for President.

    When I got to Argentina, and went to the Sunday artists’ market, the first piece of art I saw was a picture of south america (painted to look like a heart) and a hand (painted as the american flag) squeezing the blood out of it.

    What you saw in Argentina was political leftist propaganda. If you cannot learn to recognize that then you will be another sheep lead to a shearing in November.

  11. Is Sprawl Bad?

    I have an issue with the anti sprawl movement. Look at the biggest cities. They are full of crime, poverty and the schools are disasters. Is that good for a long term society? They hate each other and don’t know their neighbors. Is that good? That old man that got run over in CT last week – nobody cared, they just looked at him. In a rural setting, every witness would have run out there immediately to help. Do humans play nice when they’re jammed together? I say not.

  12. travelah

    Dionysis, who determines constitutionality, you or the U.S. Supreme Court? If the former, you might have a case against Bush but given it is the latter, no case has been made nor will there be. My point is the Democrats who rail against Bush have never presented a substantial case for unconstitutionality.

  13. Dionysis

    “Dionysis, who determines constitutionality, you or the U.S. Supreme Court?”

    A few comments:

    1. Feel free to keep your snide remarks to yourself. No one needs reminding that you’re a troll flamer who lives to insult, denigrate and obfuscate.
    2. The Congress, beginning with the House of Representatives, is responsible for impeachment proceedings. Have you forgotten how that process went when Clinton was impeached?
    3. A masterful job of outlining the Constitutional basis for impeachment has been laid out by Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, among many other such scholars (including Vincent Bugliosi of Manson family fame). I’ll accept the analysis of people who are experts in such matters over the intepretation of troll flamers.
    4. In case you slept through junior high civics, here’s a link to a refesher:

    http://www.impeachbush.tv/impeach/grounds.html

  14. Sprawl is horrible and ZONING is the cause! Democrats have made hundreds of airtight cases for unconstitutionality, just because courts ignore them is no reflection whatsoever on the case.
    What’s unsustainable is public schools, which destroy the environment by exploiting childless taxpayers. They should be horrible on nonexistant to make parents take personal responsibility for paying for thier kid’s education and also for perpetuating pollution.
    Bevan’s feelgood crap is destroying the planet by obscuring the fundamentals. If he likes sex so much then why doesn’t he even mention municipal contraception? Spineless turd!

  15. Is Sprawl Bad

    Why is Sprawl horrible? Is it the environmental impact? If so, what about the sociological issues I mentioned?

  16. bobaloo

    Is Sprawl Bad:

    Sprawl, in all reality, serves no other purpose than to bring more fast food chains and mega stores to people in suburban areas, thus increasing traffic which leads to problems like what you see in malfunction junction.
    I have no issue with building high residential areas outside the city, but at some point the city has to stop growing if that’s the case.
    Up, not out, is better for the environment for obvious reasons.

    Sociologically, as you mentioned, rural residents do have better relations and familiarity with their neighbors. But when you get suburban sprawl instead of a contained city, you no longer have rural areas.
    If people don’t like city life and attitudes, don’t live in the city.

    I’m not saying Asheville should become Charlotte or (God forbid) Atlanta, but to keep up with the demand and to reduce the affect it’s growth has on outlying areas (not to mention annexation), the city has to build more than just parking garages at some point.

  17. donnytherealsoutherner

    “Why is Sprawl horrible?”

    Drive down west patton and then ask that question. Or, better yet, the vast outskirts of Atlanta, charlotte, Raleigh, etc.

    Do you want to live in that crap?

    You must be kidding, right?

  18. Sprawl

    The population is growing. You cannot “contain” a popular city unless you regulate the population. Are you going to build walls and gates around it and make grow vertically? People are escaping high density living and moving out. As that happens, you are correct and the rural areas are pushed back. People escape the high density places because of all the sociological reasons I mentioned before: Crime, poverty, poor education, poor running broke local governments. If you put them in a high rise in the country, they are going to escape that. Anywhere people go, services are going to follow – all the things you hate on the side of the road. Is aesthetics your only concern? If you build walls around a city with zoning or building restrictions – like Charlotte wants – or some other method, society or that city at least will crumble. We have to be able to stretch out. It is human nature. People would much rather live in medium density “sprawl” than high density madness. I live in the country and someday people will crowd me and I will get mad and leave. Time moves on. Sad to say, but get used to it.

  19. Sprawl is horrible mostly because zoning causes it. Sprawl is an effect of horrible zoning and so is horrible as well.

  20. dave

    Sprawl-

    Actually, Portland oregon is great example of a city that has very successfully contained its ‘sprawl’ by limiting certain businesses to city limits. The result so far is that the city center remains just that, and the surrounding neighborhoods remain neighborhoods as well.
    spartanburg SC is a great example of what you are talking about. Very little zoning. Which ended up driving more and more prosperous residents out to the county, leaving the city a shell of decades of mini-malls and whatnot. Big box stores getting tax brakes to abandon their former buildings and move across the freeway to be closer to the new Wal Mart.

    It sounds to me like you have a prejudice against cities, with all the stereotypical hangups about ‘city-folk’. You also sound like you dont know how to get along with more than 2 or three people at once. The only real ‘solution’ to the problem, as you suggest, would be to severely limit populations, so that country folk such as yourself never have to interact with city folk.

  21. Portland Oregon is a high rent sprawling horror show! People are sprawling beyond the greenbelt and will awlays sprawl beyond any greenbelt!
    ONLY municipal contraception can stop sprawl, never zoning. Portland has some municipal contraception but do you tout that? NO! just the scumbag sprawl zoning!

  22. Sprawl

    Dave – What I’m saying is look at the facts. Look at what people do. They get what they want. They want a house with a yard and good neighbors and services close by. We may not be defining sprawl the same way. I’ve lived in both. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I guess my point is that ultra dense high rise living breeds bad behavior. Charlotte is really pushing for that by denying building permits for housing in the suburbs in order to encourage downtown living. If you want to limit where certain businesses are located so more folks could have safe neighborhoods and nice yards and such, I’m ok with that.

  23. Sprawl

    My point is NOT about how business and residential are co-mingled. My point is that forcing ultra high rise population density breeds stress and is probably bad for society in the long run. You cannot deny the sociological problems with high rise populations. Whether a Wal-Mart or a series of strip malls is next to a neighborhood is an entirely different issue. I’m defining sprawl as an increasing population moving away from the high stress center city. Jobs are in the cities and people have to live near their jobs. My job is out of my home, so I’m lucky enough to have more choice on where I live.

  24. In order to avoid CAUSING sprawl, the Portland greenbelt would have to extend over 70 miles north, to Chehalis WA, more than halfway to Olympia. Does it? I can’t find a map. If not then people are simply commuting from Chehalis and the greenbelt regulation is wasting huge amounts of gasoline!
    An Asheville Greenbelt would cause additional commuting from Erwin TN, and Old Fort. And good luck getting cooperation from TN and McDowell!
    I know Californians who made 2 day commutes in station wagons, sleeping in their cars every other night, and commuting around 200 miles! No greenbelt is 200 miles wide, so greenbelts CAUSE sprawl and WASTE GAS! In addition to raising rents and thus causing homelessness.

  25. david

    sprawl-

    Your definition of ‘sprawl’ is misleading. You mean to say low-density vs. high-density. Sprawl is poorly-planned areas like west patton.

    I dont think it is necesarily true that people in cities live a more dangerous life. Last weeks story about crazy, frightened rednecks near brevard trying to kill children 40 years ago seems to be proof that you kind find examples of unhappiness, violence, and idiocy anywhere you look-country or city.

    You seem to be basing your opinion on the commonly held myth that living in the city is somehow ‘bad’ that is silly. In fact, most ‘country’ folks i know drive FAR more than my ‘city’ friends, commuting more than 2 hours a day sometimes. This is far more unsatisfying than walking to town or riding the bus for work, groceries, etc.

    It is my opinion that people who bash ‘city living’ really have no idea what they are talking sbout.

    alan7-you are right. There are too many people. That is why war and murder that goes with it are good for society.

  26. Sprawl

    I understand your definition of sprawl. I think the real political argument is high density vs low density, not smartly spreading out the suburbs. That’s what your elected officials are working on .. getting us all to live in high rises and use public transportation. Two things. I’m not wrong on the poverty/crime/education/bureaucracy issues that exist in high density populations. I’ve lived all over the world in big and small cities. Second, your anecdotal evidence – from 40 years ago?! – does nothing to dissuade the positive sociology going on in the suburbs and rural areas. I can dig up countless “current” reasons humans behave badly when packed in like sardines. The ‘burbs wouldn’t be spreading so much if it were really so ‘satisfying’ to live in the city. I do agree with both Dave and Allan is that the real issue is over population. Mother Nature will probably solve that with a serious blind side. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a few decades to see how right I really am.

  27. dave

    sprawl…

    But, if living densly is a bad idea, and everyone moves to a ‘rural’ location, then wont we be all packed together in our ‘low-density’ living? Isnt the idea of high-density living that we have to learn to make conscious decisions that beneift the community and not just our own immature desires?

    The only solution to the problem you present, as I can see, is for the population to fall by 2/3rds. And with the chamber of commerce advertising in Manderin, I bet it’s only going to increase exponentially…

  28. William P Miller

    I would rather have sprawl than a redux of what they have up in Nu Yawk City…high rises everywhere. With the attendent high tax rates,crime,etc. Fortunately the wave of immigration from the NE and Florida has come to a standstill. Asheville will emerge intact it appears.Thank God.

  29. bobaloo

    William, I suspect we’re a long, long way from a major metropolitan area.
    None the less, you’d prefer that the expansion continue outside of a designated area, that no one is left without a Wal Mart on their doorstep?

    I truly don’t understand your opposition to containment. Or is it that you completely oppose growth? Either way, you can’t stop it, so I’d prefer to go with the option that has less of an impact.

  30. Eli Cohen

    And speaking of greed and fear, ol’ jesse helms croaked today…good riddance to a dirt bag who did much damage to this country.

  31. William P Miller

    Stop greed and fear! Vote for McCain! barack Hussein Obama spread fear through lies, and collects millions of dollars in dirty special interest money…not to count what he gets from comrade Gearge Soros!

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