Rampant Consumerism: Another version of Maggie’s Farm

Maggie’s Farm by Bob Dylan

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
Ah, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law
Everybody says
She’s the brains behind pa
She’s sixty-eight, but she says she’s twenty-four
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more

By Neva Knott

I founded this blog because I was frustrated by the the doom and gloom environmental messages. Doom and Gloom is even a thing in the environmental world…a thing I wanted to push against, contradict. I wanted to give voice to what is working to save the natural world from human destruction. I wanted to tell stories and publish stories of other writers that might help humans reconnect to nature and inspire them (us), all of us, not just those labeled environmentalists or tree-huggers, to live within the circle of life. I founded this blog to blow a hole in the stereotype of the aggressive and angry environmentalist.

Right now, and I don’t quite know how to define right now–is it the Christmas dash-and-grab? Is it the political fray over fracking and Keystone XL and Obama’s special climate deal with China? Anyway, right now, I am losing my positive mojo.

I have absolutely had it with America’s resource-depleting greed. I have absolutely had it with the climate deniers, whom we are now depicting as suited ostriches with their heads in the sand and asses high. I have absolutely had it with the irresponsibility and lack of common sense that drives the rhetoric, that insists we can continue the getting and the having and continue to exist. I am absolutely done with people like the woman at Target a few days ago.

The county I live in, Thurston County in Washington State, instituted a plastic bag ban in July. A huge positive, built on clear vision and common sense. It passed easily and quickly became habit for the masses (after the first month’s grumbling). This legislation is an example of how easily prudent change can happen, and stands in sharp contrast to the posturing and idiotic mumbo-jumbo going on about climate change and fracking and the need for “fast” consumer goods.

Anyway, this woman had a cart full of over-packaged plastic crap, what’s now called fast goods. Christmas gifts. She was demanding something-something because the store didn’t have the exact Frozen piece of crap she wanted. Then she began berating the cashier because Target “should bring back those big plastic bags, at least for the holidays.”

Her cart and her words are the symbol of all that is wrong. Until people stop holding onto that cart as reality, as an option, as a right, we are doomed.

That cart is filled through repetition of an unsustainable, poisoning circle. Each one of those plastic crap toys is made from toxic materials and by a process that pollutes the air and water and poisons the worker making it. Each piece is wrapped in petro-chemical based plastic that will not biodegrade for hundreds of years, if at all. Each pretty little Frozen doll was shipped from China. All of the energy it took to make plastic Elsa or plastic whomever is called embedded energy–the energy that goes into sourcing and manufacturing and transporting the finished good. Not only do products like these have a high embedded energy (which is bad), they very quickly go into the waste stream. So this circle is not the circle of life; it is the circle of needless resource depletion and waste, the circle that is poisoning our world. And for what?

Producing and consuming plastic crap is the modern-day job on Maggie’s Farm. The workers never get ahead, Maggie–or Elsa–is pretty and alluring, Pa is the fat-cat profiteer climate ostrich, and Ma, well, Ma is the voice of American consumerism, telling us all that our children deserve cheap plastic crap for Christmas.

So, where’s the positive story of the environment in all of this? There isn’t one on Maggie’s Farm.

But there is the beach on which I spent Black Friday, watching my two cousins marvel over whale bones we found buried in the sand.

There is Eld Inlet full of Mallard ducks this past foggy Sunday morning. There is the eagle I watched fly over a tree farm last Saturday.

One recent morning, while walking my dogs, I looked up and watched a gull fly.  The air was warm for December and a bit damp. It was quiet and peaceful, and I watched the gull, circling, within the patterns of the world around him, and I thought, that’s how we should be living. That is the circle of life.

Hope? Still not feeling it, but that gull is far from Maggie’s Farm.


6 thoughts on “Rampant Consumerism: Another version of Maggie’s Farm

  1. I hear you! It can be so easy to get frustrated at the current state of the world, but bringing your focus back to the positive and the beautiful is so important for staying motivated to fight another day.

  2. Hey, there. I just started my first blog, here on WordPress. It’s at ttgtloa.wordpress.com – have a look at it and let me know what you think. I’m not part of social media and need some input. I can see you are someone questioning things and looking for what’s really valuable – and have found it actually – whale bones in the sand and gulls spinning on thermals. I’m one, also. Let’s work together, if we can find a way? I’m from the San Juan Islands, but now live in central New Mexico, where I farm my suburban lot. Everything I know of any real value came from foraging and farming on a small island in the San Juans, learning to live with limited resources. My next blog, on WordPress, will be called ‘Suburban Subsistence’ and begin to teach people how to re-integrate to natural processes and complete the Circle, within the realm of suburbia, where most of the population lives.

  3. This is an excellent and thoughtful post, Neva, and very timely to the season–though applicable all year round, unfortunately. While the positive focus of the blog is important, there are also times when plain, unvarnished speech is critical when taking a stand on vital issues of the kind we write about here. That speech cannot always be spun positively; nor should it be. Consider the shockwaves that Carson’s first chapter of Silent Spring sent through the American consciousness. Working for positive change sometimes requires us to call things out for what they are.

  4. Hello,

    It’s nice to see someone else try to cut through the doom and spread a more positive message! We’re trying to do that and offer tips on reducing environmental impacts through our podcast, Green Snowball.

    You’ll find a fairly typical episode here > http://tinyurl.com/pujumnh if you’d care to listen. Any thoughts you have would be gratefully heard.

    Either way, I’ll follow and come back for more. Best wishes,

    Dave (and Kris)

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