Monday, July 6, 2009


LAX is the polar opposite of Ka'u and that's why I like passing through there.

It's an antidote to my own little not-even-rural anomaly of a world. It's like getting a slap in the face.

Any other large, completely artificial, utilitarian, and business-like installation would create the same effect. I admire the vision, will, ruthlessness that created LAX, the Burbank cargo airfield, LA in general. Maybe admire is too strong a word. Awe-struck?

This is our world, too big and complex for any one person (not even the sage of Omaha, I suspect) to comprehend. It's too big to fail. It's not working too well lately but even the smartest of us can only nibble around the edges hoping for some kind of miracle.

People can say this stuff about "this is your world" but it's only very slightly true. The world makes us. We try to find someplace where we can do our thing, pursue our dream of acclaim, prosperity, security, or whatever and hopefully won't get smashed in some turn of the gears.

I wish we could do better for ourselves.

Perhaps we need to learn to make the distinction between necessities, improvements, and entertainment, prioritize our choices, and build our economy based on these distinctions. We have to "see" all parts of our civilization, not just the finished consumer goods - the steel that goes into engines, the naptha crackers that make the plastics, the machine that plants the carrots, and the water-system that irrigates them. We need to see where the raw material comes out of the ground and the people and machines that mine, grow, transport, transform them. We need to see the value-chain of materials and labor that make up our world. We need to see these things but not in hysterical, sensationalistic, guilt and recrimination-driven "exposes" but in a serious and respectful way, so that we can see the connections between our lives and the resources that go into making them.

It is too easy to slip into a lame finger-pointing pseudo-radicalism that forgets that we are all just people doing the best we can in a world that any one of us, honestly, only partially grasp.

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