Less than 100 years ago, my father and his family--mother, father, brothers, and sisters--were living in a house with a dirt floor.
Less than 100 years ago, my father and his family--mother, father, brothers, and sisters--were living in a house with a dirt floor. They were sharecroppers for a Choctaw landowner named Peter Nail. They lived an agrarian life. They planted crops to sell, raised garden vegetables to live on, and hunted squirrels to have a little meat.
While their part of the country might’ve been a little behind the rest of it, it wasn’t by all that much. Most of the country was agriculturally based. They knew where their food came from.
They knew about nature first hand. They knew what the weather was like not because someone in a tight dress told them but because it was coming in through the walls.
When I was a boy going to school between 30 and 40 years ago, it was a bit different. We still raised vegetables, but not because we needed them to live on. We raised tomatoes because they were cheaper than store-bought. We raised the rest because it was something people did, I suppose. We cobbled together when a storm was coming by listening to the TV and by watching the sky.
Fast forward 40 years. In my family, we grow a few things here and there, but not a garden, not like back then. We’ve got the weather on our phones, on the computer, and on cable.
Since we don’t raise a garden, I’m not quite sure why. I do know that I hear them giving us warnings over the TV on how to take care of ourselves in the heat. When I was growing up, we just knew.
This is all about me and my family, but the same thing was happening to everyone else too. We’ve make a transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial/commercial/informational one. That switch of economy has forced a shift in a way of living. We’re farther from nature, and we are forgetting nature.
When I was a boy, I was surrounded by cattle. We knew where calves came from because we saw them being made from the very beginning. One of my grandfathers recommended horse-breeding as an entré into a discussion of the birds and the bees. But that wasn’t really necessary because we had dogs and in those days we didn’t have the money to have them fixed, so the connection of what the dogs were doing in the yard and the puppies that came some time later was there for us to make.
Now middle-class, responsible, town-dwellers have their animals spayed or neutered, as appropriate, so we don’t even see that anymore.
There was an opinion piece in the New York Times the other day that referred to children as an “accidental” result of sex. Unless that’s a use of “accidental” I’ve not heard of, I’m guessing that her grandpa never had her go see the horses breed and she never took care of a batch of puppies after a dog jumped over the fence.
Page 2 of 2 - We are losing something. We are forgetting. We are forgetting that--in spite of the fact we’ve got air-conditioning, cell phones, cable tv, and the Internet--we are still animals ourselves.
The Greeks and the Romans had a god for the sky, a god for the sea, and a god for the underworld, as well as many others. With the coming of the Judeo-Christian One God, there was a recognition of a unity above all these things. There is an interconnection among all things; there is purpose.
We are losing the idea of purpose. We are forgetting that there was a world going on long before we our individual selves came to be.
And only a few are telling us any different. And we, by and large, are not listening to those any more.
(Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. We invite you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. )