I don't have television. I was raised without it and turned out fairly okay, without really missing what I was never accustomed to in the first place—but that's aside from my thought process tonight. At work, a sports bar and tavern with large, flatscreen TVs illuminating every corner of square footage with its quick, schizophrenic imaging flashing constantly in the background and foreground, I sometimes catch myself absorbed in the evening news. Usually when this happens, I have to pull myself away for fear of the doldrums which I know will ensue, if I think too much about what I'm being told is happening in the world, and what is actually happening in the world. For me, its important to make this distinction, so I don't get too caught up in the propaganda the media likes to spin, to sway public thought and opinion.
But then again, ever so often, there is that one story that makes you stop what you are doing, in my case sanitizing dirty glassware, and listen to what is unfolding for somebody, somewhere else. This was the story of Gray's General Store in Adamsville village, Rhode Island. Open for 224 years and owned by the same family for over seven generations, the store permanently shut its doors this past Sunday. Not only was this a heartbreaking report to hear, what further burdened me was that the reason for the store's closure, was due to a big-box superstore coming into the neighborhood and taking away their long-standing business. Gray's just couldn't compete with the lower-priced, China-made products of Bigger, Better, Plus and being no longer financially sustainable, hung their CLOSED (for good) sign in their windows. Hearing this, I teared up.
Maybe I am being overly-sentimental, but I'm not ready to "progress" in this way. I will stick my heels in (and barefoot at that, so I can still feel the soil) and not budge. I will give up the technologies and the conveniences if I have to, to support certain ideologies that shouldn't be replaced or forced out. There isn't anything more refreshing these days, then when someone tells me that they haven't subscribed to the bandwagon that so many others are so happy to jump on. Like yesterday, I met this guy (pictured left), from Juno, Alaska who was on a road trip down to a little town outside of Birmingham, Alabama, to work on a sustainable farm. Not only did this lift my heart a little, but the fact that he called me from a payphone (yes, they still exist) after I had offered him a place to shower and refresh before he got back on the road, made me happy to know that there are still people out there who don't support the monopolies and corporate enterprises, who are surviving quite well while the rest are jockeying to get ahead, or like me, just trying to keep up. It may be the old, simpler way of doing things, but simplicity and community may be the points we've all been missing.