Capitalism Has Completely Taken Us Out Of Nature And Distanced Us From Our Cultural Roots

I think back upon my parents and how, common folk that they were, they were still in possession of a store of wisdom. They were the last generation not to be raised by television, and thus the last to be raised by sources with roots. There’s was the last generation to be raised with values other than corporate consumer values.

Hence they were taught not to waste. This was a lesson taught dearly to any other generation than the ones raised on television commercials and planned obsolescence. Perhaps it was only because they did not have access to the surpluses we have today. Still, I cannot help think the idea of using what one has rather than throwing it away in order to acquire something new is a value worth learning.

I remember both my parents were able to recite poetry they had memorized in grade school from poets who had died before they were born. They were both familiar with the fairy tales of Grimm and the Fables of Aesop. They were acquainted with Shakespeare. In this sense they were in touch with cultures and eras other than their own, and if they connected with any of it, then they connected to ideas that wore well.

They were raised on The Bible. Raised by stories that did not all translate well through the centuries, true, but raised on stories and parables that reached timeless truths as well, that pointed to morals around which civilizations were built.

They were raised in a household where parents and grandparents and not advertisers were the principal teachers of children. Where respect was not bestowed upon someone because of celebrity but because they put food on the table, wood in the fireplace, and clothes on your back.

They were raised by experience in a way no child in modern society can appreciate. An experience that involved long hours of being far from the influence of adults, where children learned to negotiate social skills instead of appealing to authority. Where children played games by their own rules rather than having rules dictated to them by referees and umpires and game developers. Where children played for the joy of playing rather than to gain the approval of adults.

But more than anything, they were raised to a greater degree than we can now appreciate in the natural world. They foraged for berries and learned to make a pie from them. They caught fish and made a meal of them. They knew the names of trees and flowers and birds. They spent time on their backs, staring at the clouds and the stars, feeling as we no longer feel their place in and connection to the universe.

True, they lacked connection to the internet. But we often seem to lack connection to those nearest to us, to a sense of history, to moral precepts that have been fundamental to guiding humanity’s advancement. We lack connection to others that is not mediated by some authority figure, be it the law, an educator, an overseer, or a media figure telling us what we should think or accept or desire. In place of such connection, we have Netflix and Call of Duty.

There was plenty wrong with my parents’ generation and I am glad we have made progress since then. At the same time, we have most definitely lost in the deal as well. All I ask is that we look back in reflection (do people still do that anymore?) on how things were as compared to how things are now and ask some questions about what we may have lost. Around us has been built a media machine and a structure of authority that is always telling us we are living in the best of all possible worlds, that all who came before got it all wrong and no one in the future could possibly find fault in what we now do and who we now are.

Come to think of it, my parents’ generation probably had a lot of the same silly conceit, as well.

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