Sat, Oct

Depression, Denial and a Simpler Life

CERDAFIED - After decades of unbridled spending and debt building, middle class Americans have yet to awaken fully to the new economic reality. 

Sure they are living on tight budgets, foregoing vacations and big ticket purchases but many are poised to return to the irrational spending as soon as the economy favors them. They are certain that recovery is right around the corner though nothing has changed to make it a reality. Yet others see this as a long term depression and plan to change their wicked, wicked ways. 

We had fully embraced the throw away mentality to the chagrin of our “Depression Era” parents.  We accepted the short life of our major appliances though they once sung on forever.  We think we are happy milling about home improvement stores, and spending the vast majority of our lives fixing every manufacturers broken promise of quality and long life. 

We are busier than ever, bringing our office and work home with us by means of cell phones and computers.  We have forgotten how to say NO; No to the endless work. NO to endless spending.  NO  to every commercial intrusion on radio, television, street bench, buses and cars, computers, skies, billboards, and newspaper. NO to our skyrocketing debt. 

Our yeses created wealth for major manufacturers, and they took those dollars and paid for political campaigns.  In return they were allowed to form monopolies, and inflated the cost of living while keeping your wages on lock down.  They convinced the political dunderheads that they were people too. They got big tax breaks, you got taxed on everything. 

We could say NO to this corporate personhood with our dollars and cents.  We could simplify our lives, shed our entrapping and live fuller and freer lives.  Did that sound scary? Why are we so reluctant to change our lives for the better?  Are we not convinced it is for the better? 

All this political intervention on behalf of corporate America has come at too high a price. Our air, water, land and food is becoming toxic.  The almighty dollar has cast a threatening shadow over every nation as our troops and bombs are exported to assert control, and fill the coffers of the military complex.  These dollars come from our wallets and from generations yet to come. 

While we chase our tail trying to gather more dollars to spend on more corporate enticements, the older generation eyes us in their all-knowing way, and warns us that the simple life has slipped away.  All we see is the conveniences of our technological advances.  We try to convince them to give up that rotary phone, along with those bygone days. They wouldn’t hear of it. 

Our children are too busy with their mind bending devotion to electronic devices to spend a summer’s night chasing fireflies, or playing Olly Olly Oxen free.  They never shined their shoes like new pennies. They don’t gather a harvest, or even recognize one edible plant from another.  

Should you ask your child for a helping hand, you will be met with whining, complaining, and sub standard efforts. Why? While you worked to give them a better life, they did not benefit from your time, wisdom, and instruction.  We handed off our babies to preschools, with the broken promise that they would be better prepared for college. But then college tuitions soared. Parents and students  were indebted for decades.  But we didn’t demand a change; we complained amongst ourselves and then returned to our busy work. 

We no longer had the time to devote to changing our political landscape.  Our parents knocked on the door of the Mayor to bring about changes.  They brought a hot temper, a long memory, and a voter’s revenge.  People would duke it out and let their feelings be known.  That went a long way to getting results.  They didn’t fear lawsuits, they feared immoral decision making. They feared the unclenched fist and its indifference to worldly wrongs most of all. 

They knew how to form unions and fight a brutal war against corporate bullies.  They worked less hours and their marriages lasted longer.  They danced in barns and courtyards, and had long courtships.  They knew their neighbors, and most likely still do. They know phone numbers of friends and family without relying on cell phone contact lists. 

Our parents had it better, and we never realized it when we sloughed off their values and ways.  We don’t have the doctor visit our home, or have our milk delivered, or listen to the carolers serenade us to lift our spirits. We don’t walk enough or chat while we hang laundry on a summer’s day.  We don’t make our own clothes, or learned to whittle, or skip stones at the creek.  We don’t fish for hours, and whistle a tune our father taught us. We are deprived and we don’t know it. 

I am hankering for a simpler life after taking a hard look at the world we created. Can we return to the golden days? Are we strong enough?


(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.) 





Vol 11 Issue 33

Pub: Apr 23, 2013