“Joyously Abundant Products!”
Jumbled amongst the pile of paper pulp on my desk, the catalog caught my eye.
Great, I thought. Someone has sold our name to a religious organization.
I really should stop making these snap judgments – it’s not too late to make and break another New Year’s resolution after all. This particular group, while it was indeed religious, was more concerned with the Goddess, as in Mother Earth, as opposed The Masculine Guy. Oddly, though, much of the language was the same:
“We give thanks” – to God, to Mother Earth
“We must be good stewards” – of our financial resources (so we can tithe), of the planet (so we can breathe).
“Tap into the Life Force” – via prayer, or biodynamics.
Some of the pictures from the Joyous publication could have been lifted from Sunday school materials – my favorite was a group of people, sitting at a long, food-laden table under the trees –holding hands while they gave thanks.
Looked like an outside church service to me.
I guess I find this intriguing because this is an election year, during which much will be said about the Rabid, Radical Religious Right, a frightening force of fanatical fundamentalists whose goal is to take over this country and turn it into a Puritanical paradise.
And yet, these people had nothing to do with a major city’s recent decision to ban plastic bags at grocery stores, forcing shoppers to pay for woven synthetic (read: tough plastic) “eco-friendly” products. Those who choose paper bags – which are made from trees, a renewable resource, by the way – are assessed 5 cents each. Agitators in the city are striving to make the ban statewide.
“We’re out to save our planet,” proponents say.
And your polar opposites are out to save your souls.
Both of you get in people’s faces.
Although I don’t smoke and I’m happy to not deal with people’s lip-kissed dross on the ground and occasionally in ash trays, I extend compassion to shivering workers taking their break out in the alley and 25 feet away from the door – in compliance with state law.
“People shouldn’t smoke,” proponents say. “The law discourages them from doing so.”
A generation ago, many religious people considered smoking a sin, but they never passed a law banning it.
Much as none of us want to live in a Puritanical world of somber, black garbed deacons and deaconesses (and by the way, most religious people aren’t this way), the opposite, which isn’t as opposite as it seems, and isn’t as far away as you think, is no better. Bureaucratic vicars and prelates who detachedly shuffle forms and administer regulations and assess fines for trespasses like providing raw milk to consumers who are asking for it, or transporting incandescent light bulbs over state lines (wait for it), or possessing an open bottle of wine in the trunk of the car, or glowering at a police officer (we don’t universally call them “peace officers” yet, do we?) are just as joyless, just as merciless, just as bad.
Far Right or Way Left – these are both bad directions, and interestingly, rather than move further apart as polar opposites, they share so many similarities in the way they seek to control other people’s lives that they actually amalgamate, as if they were on a circle as opposed to a line.
But most of us don’t belong to either group, because we’re not the principals trying to grasp the strings: we are the ordinary people in the center of the circle, bumping elbows and jostling one another because we’re humans and we don’t agree on everything, but we’re friends and co-workers and family members and even strangers who are willing to live, and let live.