(Warning: This post might offend you. Can’t help you with that. Just sayin’.)
I just returned from meeting my husband for Taco Tuesday at the nearby bar where the loggers hang out. It’s in the neighboring town and worth the drive to be around the salt of the earth people there drinking and chatting.
It was great, and I’m not being facetious here. I love hanging out at that bar and in all sorts of places in this rural community. I love being around people who are blue collar workers: the loggers, the farmers, the ranchers, the people who work with their hands and their backs, not with their brains while sitting on their butts.
The more time I spend around people like that, the more I see how people in cities can be completely disconnected from things that matter. Take food. Environmentalists can’t have what they want to have without making it more likely that food production will become more industrialized, more chemical-intensive, and more likely to be done outside the boundaries of our own country. To save what, an owl? A fish? We screw our whole food system for that? They mean well. But they are ignorant. And their ignorance screws not only the rural communities, but all of us.
I like being around people who do the work that matters. They are grounded and being around them keeps me grounded. Don’t misunderstand. I moved here from the city and I love the city and the people who live there. But the longer I live here, the more convinced I am that city people suffer from a dangerous disconnect that affects our morality, our values and, yes, our food.
They don’t mill lumber or slaughter cows or cut hay or plow fields. They don’t drive trucks or fix engines. They don’t live by the seasons nor is their livelihood affected by the weather…and governmental decisions made from afar. They are—in a word—disconnected. Period. So the things that make sense to city people make no sense at all.
I am beginning to think that a lot of what’s wrong with our society started when we changed from a rural to an urban society and I don’t just mean our food system; I mean a whole value system. If you’re sitting in a cubicle and your sole connection to the world around you comes via the Internet, what can you really know? How can you really make informed decisions?
City people visit our farm in the making and they are distressed to see chickens and turkeys in real life. They don’t want that “connection.” They don’t want to see these animals that are known to them as featherless pieces of meat on a dinner plate starting out as real characters pecking at each other in the orchard. Instead of rejoicing in seeing food literally in the making, they bemoan seeing what these animals look like in real life.
We are on a slippery slope in this country at this time. When R rated commercials are perfectly acceptable on family TV, when our daughters are showing far too much skin, when a major government official is caught in an affair and people ask, “Why should that matter to anyone but his wife?” … when this is the state of our country, I think one of the things we desperately need is a better connection to things that matter, things like food, and heat, and running water, things like hard work. We need to spend less time connected to the world wide web and more time connected to things like, well, manure.
That was a much bigger tangent than I intended so I’ll try to get back to my point. My point is I like being around the blue collar people. I like being around people who work with their hands and their backs, whose work is grounded and real, and who seem to have a lot more common sense as a result. I think we might be better off if other city people were willing to go to Taco Tuesday with the loggers on occasion…and listen to what they had to say.