Archive for March, 2015
It is election time, not in Ukraine, but back in the United States where Nancy is registered as an “Independent.”
Her absentee ballot lay open on the table. The typed names on the crisp white pages are like actors on an obscure Hollywood script for a political drama.
Nancy slowly flattens the creases out of a used sheet of aluminum foil beside the ballot as she reads through the names.
Aluminum foil is hard to come by in Ukraine, and this piece, as soon as she finished, is as good as new.
“Which one of these presidential candidates would flatten out a piece of aluminum foil and reuse it?” she asks herself. There was only one, she thought. She fills in the circle beside the name of Ralph Nader and casts her vote.
Adam understands why a newborn cries at birth. He feels it every time he leaves the womb.
His womb is the bed, a place of comfort and stability. His blankets are a warm whiskey across the conscience.
He lies there watching the morning sun move across the wall, fearing the shoulds. He should be doing this, should be better at waking up early. The world is cold, relentless.
Adam knows why a baby cries.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Where does my money go? Does it go in the pockets of friends, family, those I know? I cannot think of a dollar I spent recently that went directly into the hands of someone I knew. The food I eat, the roof over my head, the fire in my stove, all these things are provided for by someone I don’t know.
The Gate’s Foundation published its annual letter with a chart showing the United States as the country spending the smallest percent of its income on food in the world. It seems reason for celebration. Maslow’s pyramid of needs requires us to get things like food out of the way before we can “self-actualize.”
A special report was drawn up for Congress in 2009 titled Farm-to-Food Price Dynamics revealing the movement of money with regards to our food. In 1950 if I spent a dollar on food, a farmer got 41 cents. In 2006 a farmer got 19 cents. What does this mean for a farmer? What does this mean about our value of food?
In 1950 for every dollar I spent on food 59 percent went to what is called “marketing bill,” the cost of bringing the food from the farmer to the buyer. This is everything from transportation to processing to the electricity at the supermarket. In 2006 for every dollar spent 81 cents went to this marketing bill. This means in 1950 I most likely bought food that was less processed and had to travel less to get to me. This means I most likely bought food from someone I knew.
On the left bank of the Congo River live the bonobo. On the right bank live the chimpanzee along with the gorilla. The chimpanzee is combative, aggressive and has evolved to use tools. The bonobo are more docile and are well known for their sexual appetite. They do not use tools.
A theory stands that the bonobo and the chimpanzee differ in behavior because of competition. The chimpanzee competes with the gorilla for food, and territory. Across the river, the bonobo live without this pressure and in relative peace.
The simplicity of this theory and its possible application in our own lives has been plaguing me.
In my own moments of competition I have found success in the failure of others and my own failure in the success of others. A sociologist may call this a scarcity mindset, meaning in these instances I am looking at someone’s success as a limit to my own. There is only so much success in the world to go around. The opposite being the abundance mindset when one believes another’s success is not limiting their own, because there is plenty of success to go around.
What happens when there is not plenty of success to go around? How does a bad economy affect our mindset and action towards others?
Read more about the bonobo in this National Geographic article.