“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….” ― Noam Chomsky
I like lively debate outside the box.
We have a local lawn service that employees some Latin American workers. The children work alongside the grownups. They work hard but take good breaks and quit by 4PM. I worked for my Dad in the summers and loved every minute. At the breaks, we got a donut in the morning and one Pepsi in the afternoon. Heavenly. My Dad was a history major and loved to talk about long ago and far away. He talked of the war and of growing up in The Depression. He taught me how to hammer a nail and to tighten a screw. I knew what the difference was between a wrench and a pliers. I helped him build a boat and a small horse barn. I helped him plant trees and pour cement. He taught me how to mow a lawn straight. That was the worst as my wandering mind and boredom led me to start making circles instead of lines. Then I would get hollered at.
I’ve changed my mind about education. From where did I really get my learning? I read a lot of books from the local public library. My parents bought an encyclopedia and a huge book on the Civil War. I know that Robert E. Lee’s horse was named Traveler because I read a book about it. At the same time I learned to question what I was reading. Mostly I learned from the stories my Dad and Mom told me of how they grew up in vastly different ways. I’m pretty sure I would have been fine without being stuck in a cinder block cell called a school room for 7 hours a day.
I had the fortune to be raised on the grounds of the school for the handicapped that my Dad ran. So I followed him like a puppy dog my mother said anytime I got the chance. My Dad wasn’t stuck behind his desk all day in some far away office is some building in downtown Chicago. Yes, I was fortunate. He didn’t make a lot of money, but he had plenty of time for me. I think that all children should have parents who have plenty of time.
There is child labor abuse like having little children work in coal mines. But then there was also adult labor abuse in those mines. Back breaking work in the fields in hot weather with no breaks is abuse. But so is sitting in a cement box all day being taught to take tests.
In Dimitry Orlov’s “The Five Stages of Collapse” he tells the story of how he as a young boy in the Soviet Union would fake an illness so he was sent home for weeks. There his grandmother would home school him for 3 to 4 hours and the rest of the time he would sled or play fetch with his dog. He also read a lot of books. His desk mate at school turned out to be a gypsy who scoffed at book reading and said that none of that was real and that his people kept everything in their head.
The powers that be hate leisure time for the riff raff. Leisure is for for the elite. Work is for the little people (to paraphrase Leona Helmsley). And if they have too much leisure time it leads them to question the prevailing order of things. The whole hierarchy thing comes into question. Why do some people get to loll around while others have to work their butts off? Yeh, why?
I was fortunate. I got to do meaningful work spending time with my Dad. I want that for everybody.
Me and Dad with the model ship “we” put together in the classroom where he taught his first classes at the Elim Christian School for the Exceptional Child. My father was quoted as saying “Children should be custom made not mass produced.” The children at his school learned to make a car, build a boat, cut and bale the hay field, take care of 2 steers and 5 horses along with reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.
(This is the second in “The Grand” series. The first one was “Old Blisters” that introduces the cast of characters.)
It is another cold and windy night in Little Twig, Montana. The temperature had been below zero for almost a week, but with the rise in temperature to above zero, the wind had picked up again. You could hear it howl and it made the sign outside the saloon bash against the bricks. It was the usual cast of characters at The Grand sitting at booths and at the bar. Daphne is sipping a Sauvignon Blanc. She is dressed all in black with a jaunty grey cloche on her head. Cowboy Clay with a Chardonnay in hand is next to her talking to Carl who is nursing a micro brew when Sonny breezes in and sees a spot next to Clay. Claudia pours him a glass of Merlot.
Clay: How’s it goin’?
Sonny: Not bad. Just came in from Idaho and it’s really dry.
Clay: Is it like California? I hear that’s bad.
Sonny: Well, those Californians are just going to have to decide whether they want to take a shower and flush the toilet or eat.
Daphne chimes in: Is that really the choice? Flush or starve? Can’t the Ag business use less water? I mean it’s not like they are a bunch of small family farms growing enough for themselves and the people in their towns. Don’t they export most of the lettuce, tomatoes, pomegranates, almonds?
Sonny: Well, they are family farms, just really big ones. And they have the long water rights.
Well, the discussion went on for a few minutes about who owns what and how water rights came to be through mining rights and taxpayers rights versus corporations rights and Beverly Hills farmers and manifest destiny and survival of the fittest before a truce was called and they went back to talking about the weather.
Clay: Some trucker said his temperature reading went from 20 below to 60 below for a few miles past Reed Point.
Daphne: What shall I play on the Juke? Lorde or Alan Jackson?
Clay: Whatever you want, Darlin’?
Daphne: Oh and I brought some pears if anybody wants some.
Sonny: I’ll take two. I like to drizzle a little balsamic on them and sprinkle with a little blue cheese. Thanks!
I had fun last night. Different people have different ways of having fun. And most people have various ways of having fun. But one of my favorite ways of having fun is a lively discussion of something or other. In that respect, I should have been born French where I could go out to a cafe after work and philosophize with friends over a nice bottle of wine and some oysters and good bread. We could talk about anything but the weather unless it was about how the weather might influence our moods or our art. We could talk about who could call themselves writers and who couldn’t. Or who was an artist? Or was all life and thus all art futile? Continue reading →
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Posted in Low Places, Montana Life, Social Commentary, The Grand
Tagged bars, fun, leisure, Montana, The Baffler, work