Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quote of the Day

(Original columns of the U.S. Capitol, now displayed at the National Arboretum, Washington, D.C.)

The management of my neighborhood gym each day posts a "quote of the day" above each of the water fountains. I've been reading these quotes several times a week for several years, and they range from kinda sorta OK to breathtaking. Here's the quote that hung above the water fountains this morning:

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
-- Jiddu Krishnamurti


I wonder if he is talking about--

a society in which money and power are valued more than the nourishment of mind, body, and spirit;

a society in which most people look outside themselves instead of within for validation and fulfillment;

a society in which, in pursuit of money, power, and validation, people deprive themselves of sleep and eat "convenience" foods loaded with hydrogenated fat, high-fructose corn syrup, and sodium (which constitute the bulk of the average inventory of an average grocery store);

a society in which technology has gotten so good and become so pervasive that everybody wants everything now and few people know how to prioritize or, perish the thought, set limits concerning what they can or intend to do;

a society in which, on the one hand, acceptable "entertainment" consists heavily of stories that glorify crime and graphic violence, usually involving guns, and on the other hand people wonder why crime is such a problem in real life;

a society that kills people for the most serious crimes, even though by its own laws killing is forbidden and its process for assigning guilt is admittedly imperfect;

a society in which, in the name of God, people divide themselves into groups that frequently insult, and sometimes even physically harm, one another;

a society in which many people have forgotten that mind, body, and spirit are connected; doctors tend to treat the part instead of the whole, the symptom instead of the root; and people always seem to be ailing with something;

a society in which many people will do almost anything to numb or otherwise mask any sensation or emotion that is not labeled "happiness" (take a look at the size of the pain-killer aisle at the drug store and/or the lack of unoccupied seats at your favorite bar if you don't believe me);

a society in which humans have polluted the earth, perhaps irreparably in the short term (i.e., a period that is easily conceivable by humans, as opposed to a period relative to the overall age of the earth) so that most of us can go anywhere we want, whenever we want, and do whatever we want once we get there;

a society in which we view all the items above as signs of "progress," even though people are suffering and dying from things like cancer and heart disease at much higher rates than in the past, and in which we now are susceptible to all manner of diseases that weren't observed at all 100 years ago;

a society in which so many people, both rich and poor, are bereft of spirit and overall health?

Does that kind of society sound familiar to anyone out there?

It is possible that the ongoing financial troubles, especially if they worsen, will more deeply entrench the kind of society described above, as people find ways to lay blame for their misfortunes and commit themselves to regaining all the money and possessions they have lost. On the other hand, it is possible that a long economic recession, or possibly even depression, will bring the members of such a society back to themselves, so that they see more clearly what is true, important, and good, both for themselves and their fellow citizens. If the economic downturn does the latter, it will have done us all a great service, in my opinion.

Regardless of one's personal financial condition or the overall fate of the US and world economies over the coming months and years, one always is free to choose which, if any, of the "sick" societal norms one wishes to believe and follow. Choice is a powerful thing, and it always is available. Always. How many things can you say that about? Go forth and choose wisely, my blog friends.

12 comments:

Angela said...

Adrianne, wow! As I was taking a stroll with my dog tonight, I had just about the same things on my mind, only they were not as clear and complete as you have listed them! I would like to comment on just about each paragraph, but maybe you have inspired me to write a blog post myself on this topic. Thanks for all your concern, and all your ideas, and especially for the resume you pull out of all this! Yes, we do have choices. Let us think hard about them.

Barbara said...

I think you nailed it quite well. Sounds profoundly sick to me. And to top it all off, when the economy gets worse, antisemitism inevitably rears its ugly head.

Val said...

BRAVE Adrianne - a powerful and thought provoking post. Everyday we have a choice! xx

Val said...

sorry that was meant to be BRAVO but BRAVE is also good :-)

Reya Mellicker said...

I think anger is also an acceptable emotion in end stage american empire culture.

Joseph Baressi said...

The Washington Times had a powerful article about some DC residents who were alive during the great depression:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/29/witnesses-to-the-great-depression-remember/print/

A quotation:

Ms. Deloatch was born on May 8, 1920 in Branchville, Va., nearly 10 years before the stock market crash. Today she sits in her room at the Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home in the District, safe, comfortable and far from the farm where she grew up near the North Carolina border. The room is clean, the bed made.

She rests in her wheelchair, and the blinds are open to the street below, with its barren trees marking the winter season as the nation's economy remains in crisis.

Her father was a sharecropper.

"Yes, indeed, I remember," she says. "When Hoover was in the seat, right? And we couldn't get good flour. ... The hogs had died, and we didn't have no meat," she recollects. "We raised our hogs, chickens; we had cows, dogs, cats and eight children. There was a lot of love. We were poor, but a lot of love. We all went to church. We were all right.

Okie said...

I think a measure of a great quote is how much thought or conversation it can promote. Your post proves the immense depth in that particular quote...or in that "loaded" phrase.

I especially appreciate your commentary at the end of your post. Life is indeed what you make of it.

SJW said...

Thanks for the post Adrianne.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You really have to write a book, my dear.

I thought of this post this morning as I drove to the office in maddening DC Saturday-road-closure, inauguration-prep, tourist-heavy, inept-taxi-driver intersection-blocking madness, and heard an ad for McDonald's touting the $2 Big Mac and the $4 Value Meal as a solutino for coping with tough economic times. Junk food is so cheap and easy, unless you care about your health or the health of the planet. Not that I don't enjoy the occasional french fry as an indulgence, but I don't fool myself into thinking of it as actual food.

Audrey

Cyndy said...

What an awesome post! Money isn't everything is what I tell myself - all the time.

I love your picture of the Capitol Columns. It looks very similar to the one I took this past July. Only I followed mine up by writing about crape myrtles.

http://photo-cyn-thesis.blogspot.com/2008/07/national-arboretum.html

Cold Spaghetti said...

Yeah, I think that's pretty much the society... and I like that you've said it's our choices that codify it.

alejna said...

That was powerful and beautifully put. You raise some very good questions. (And yes, that society sounds all too familiar.)

Here's hoping our society makes some healthier choices. (At least for the big choices. On an individual level, I still sometimes want some potato chips!)