I started to comment on the third post of his Ptocheiopsis series, but I got carried away and decided to bring my lengthy response back here.
From his post:
We moderns fill our days shuffling piles of papers from one side of a desk to the other, transfering electronic documents, inspecting this, coordinating that, certifying and validating this other thing, and in general do nothing more than toss about bags of air to each other.He goes on to explain that
We do not live by our own work. Our livelihood, the beans on our tables, the shingles over our heads, the clothes on our backs, and the logs (as it were) on our fires all come from three sources:I couldn't help thinking of my main source of income, "inspecting things."
1) Raping the environment
2) Oppressing the world's poor
3) Accepting poor quality in everything for the false appearance of abundance.
At any rate, it isn't by the sweat of our faces.
Here's a song I wrote a few years back, as I tried to convey to baffled onlookers why I hated my job in environmental consulting:
For the Environment
© 1999 by Laura Herman
Sung to a jolly tune, with a twinkle in the eye, at a frenetic pace.
Oh, I want to work for the environment.
I go to university,
biology and chemistry;
I'm dumping chemicals down the drain
in order to prepare my brain
for solving all the planet's problems,
soon as I can get a job and
do the work I want for the environment.
For the environment;
for the environment.
Oh, can't you see it's all for the environment?
It'll never be a chore,
and I'm always doing more,
more, more, more, more for the environment.
Oh, I drive a truck for the environment.
I spew out greenhouse gases
on my way to key out grasses
that will soon be getting killed
beneath the road they have to build
to reach the well to pump the crude
from which the gasoline is brewed
to fill my tank so I can drive my truck for the environment.
Oh, I write reports for the environment.
We need reports to help decide
if paper use is justified
and what the paper source should be,
a fibre crop, or forest tree,
and whether we should plow more land
or cut another forest stand
for paper for reports I write for the environment.
(Chorus, faster and faster, to a dramatic drawn out MO-O-ORE...for the environment!)
I was raised by back-to-the-landers: an engineering prof and a stay-at-home mom (not unusual at that time) who happened to have a graduate degree in biology. What was unusual about Mom was that she was raised in Toronto, but she became the farmer, feeding the cattle through the winter and calving them out in early spring while Dad continued to teach at the university two hours' drive away, coming home only on weekends and through the summers, when he worked on building the solar-heated house, and took over the lead farmer role in putting up the hay.
I grew up knowing where my food came from. I went off to save the planet more actively, and eventually realized that it wasn't the planet that needed saving, it was us, needing saving from ourselves. I couldn't fix the system by being part of it. But Mom and Dad's approach didn't seem to work either; their quiet retreat to the land doesn't appear to have made much difference in the way anyone else lives (even their own children; my brother is an urban laborer, my sister an industrial production coordinator with a townhouse and an SUV). And I am stumbling along, trying to be a part of society enough that somebody will care what I think, or enough that my husband doesn't have a breakdown or leave me. He hated living in a little house trailer with a carry-out-the-bucket toilet; I loved it because I never had to worry about unclogging a sewer! (And yes, I carried it out. That was my chore.) Now we live in town, in an ordinary little older house with one flush toilet, and I am still doing some environmental consulting (because I'm good at it, so they keep calling me, and money keeps the peace around here - "money answereth all things," Ecclesiastes 10:19, for you folks who think there are no contradictions in the Bible). I've mentioned before about a dream I had, which got me thinking that feeding people spiritually might help move society away from its insatiable hunger for more, more, more stuff that doesn't feed anyone. Now, after a couple of years of occasional lay preaching, I'm working with a committee of the local church and presbytery to "discern" whether I should be a minister of some sort.
But Eleutheros makes me nervous. I don't want to be a "professional hand-wringer." Can I work even harder, make my tiny token garden into something meaningful and at the same time study through a distance-education program that trains ministers for ordination while they work in part-time ministry in their home community? Can I aspire to be like Paul the tentmaker, within a church where some of the clergy recently wanted to unionize?
Update - to be fair to my sister, it's a very nice townhouse. I enjoy its peaceful comforts every time I need a place to sleep in the city. And it's a very fuel-efficient SUV, one of the best, and I understand it's quite necessary for hauling her Paraguayan harp to functions all up and down our crumbling Saskatchewan roads. Which reminds me, I promised her some web design work to let the world know about her lovely harp music. Anyway, I hope I haven't offended. I'm hoping she and the harp will be here for the Christmas Eve service!