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I wrote this a month ago


Maggie Mae

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Recently, I took a vacation to Hawaii. One of the last things we did was look at a "Living History Coffee Farm." This was not something we had planned, this was something to do between check-out time and flight time. This turned out to be one of the memorable moments of the trip. 

As I drove to the farm, which was very conveniently located, I noticed the landscape changing from the almost-desert of North Kona into the green South Kona. The farm was a tiny remnant of 1913. There was a donkey, a proper sized donkey, unlike the tiny wild desert donkeys I'd seen just about every day. This donkey, according to the shopkeeper, is 20 years old, named Charlie, and his job was to look pretty and take pictures with people. However, a sign alerted me to the fact that Charlie's earlier farm relatives were not so lucky. A donkey his size would have carried four bags of coffee! And probably worked to death. :-( 

Beyond the donkey, there were both macadamia trees and coffee trees, and working equipment from the early 1900s. The work the people must have put into this farm was more that most Americans today would bother with. Picking, pruning, drying, packaging, on top of daily simple living. They dried the coffee in the sun, but they had to move it if there was even the slightest chance of rain, because rain would ruin it. 

But the part I really wanted to mention was the farm house. The very small farm house that housed 8-12 children. The people who worked the coffee land were Japanese, so this was a very Japanese style home. They had straw mats on the floor, a rice cooker, and the women in charge showed us how the mother (who would have been sent to marry the man, sight unseen) would make meals and clothing for 8-12 children. It was eye-opening. 

They also showed us a typewriter. Every Japanese family had one for the children, as they prioritized education over so many other things. 

There were lots of things that we talked about - how nice and simple life must have been. How much work. How how it was. We were left with one unanswered question, purposely avoided, and that was of Japanese Internment during WWII. This came up when we saw that the tenant cabin was turned into a required bomb shelter during the war. 

But I keep going back to that typewriter and the prioritization of education. These were people who made clothing from old rice bags. People who worked 12 to 16 hours a day, and they wanted their children to be educated. 

What the hell is wrong with Americans and this culture of anti-intellectualism? We didn't have a revolution (like China) where we collectively looked down on the intellectuals as being part of the elite. But for some reason we are still equating that who has the most money with intelligence.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a revolution. People crowding the streets of their capitals (well, not mine, they put mine on an island (essentially, not technically) and a flight from the biggest city is still $400ish for a last minute flight). I'd love to see people shunning the rich and powerful bourgeoisie. I'd like to see things like the Oscars, where rich people give other rich people awards and wear overpriced clothing get cancelled. I want the masses to come together and forget about which Kardashian is getting married and who is having a baby and instead talk about what they are willing to do to fight climate change. To change the minds of the millions of very terrible people who seem to think that no one is owed anything, including an education. I want to find a way to get everyone working for spending power, shorter work weeks, better work/life separation & balance.  

I understand that people can care about both the K family and Climate Change. The K family aren't the problem, but the lack of interest in education is.I want women and men to be recognized for what they can do, not their instagram feed. To find value in being smart and friendly and changing the world for the better, not for having two phones. (Seriously the dumbest song I've heard in a month or so. In another month there will be another terrible pop song.)  

 

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V interesting, thanks.

Have you heard of Simon Reeve? He makes travel documentaries for the BBC. He focuses on issues like the environment and social injustice. Your piece is reminiscent to me of his stuff. (Simon never puts a foot wrong, as far as I'm concerned.)

http://www.shootandscribble.com/sr/1.html

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Maggie Mae

Posted

16 minutes ago, Kak said:

V interesting, thanks.

Have you heard of Simon Reeve? He makes travel documentaries for the BBC. He focuses on issues like the environment and social injustice. Your piece is reminiscent to me of his stuff. (Simon never puts a foot wrong, as far as I'm concerned.)

http://www.shootandscribble.com/sr/1.html

I haven't. Thanks! The biography sounds very interesting and relevant to my interests. 

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EyeQueue

Posted

This is super interesting. You should turn this into a magazine article or something.

I, too, am angered and puzzled about the roots of anti-intellectualism in this country. And what's hilarious is that the very people who appear to the masses on this ground (Drumpf and even Dubya) have Ivy League educations. Ridiculous.

Is it America's Puritan streak?

OK...while writing this response, I came across a very interesting blog post that gets at this issue. https://scienceoveracuppa.com/2016/01/10/the-roots-of-american-anti-intellectualism/

Count me in as someone who would love to see a revolution, but I feel a bit guilty about even expressing that because I know that there are rarely (if ever?) bloodless revolutions. But something has to change. The country is more divided than I've ever seen it and the growing social inequality won't stretch forever. At some point it will break and I fear that the snap-back will be fairly brutal.

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Maggie Mae

Posted

1 hour ago, EyeQueue said:

This is super interesting. You should turn this into a magazine article or something.

Thanks. I wrote it in the blog editor on FJ and forgot about it until I went to create a new blog. It only now occurred to me that I could have copy & pasted the text into word, saved it, and worked on it some more. 

1 hour ago, EyeQueue said:

I, too, am angered and puzzled about the roots of anti-intellectualism in this country. And what's hilarious is that the very people who appear to the masses on this ground (Drumpf and even Dubya) have Ivy League educations. Ridiculous.

Is it America's Puritan streak?

OK...while writing this response, I came across a very interesting blog post that gets at this issue. https://scienceoveracuppa.com/2016/01/10/the-roots-of-american-anti-intellectualism/

Thanks for the article! 

1 hour ago, EyeQueue said:

Count me in as someone who would love to see a revolution, but I feel a bit guilty about even expressing that because I know that there are rarely (if ever?) bloodless revolutions. But something has to change. The country is more divided than I've ever seen it and the growing social inequality won't stretch forever. At some point it will break and I fear that the snap-back will be fairly brutal.

There won't be a revolution until there is some sort of food shortage. We are too well fed (despite the fact that we have 15.3 million children living in food insecure homes), and too entertained. Even when my salary was less than this dress, I was still (relatively) comfortable. I had food, I had shelter (with roommates), I had entertainment. I was (relatively) safe. My neighbors at the same level of poverty were also reasonably distracted with the drama that consumes life in poverty, television, and day-to-day necessities. It's so easy for the wealthy to distract and exploit the masses - poverty, working class, middle class, even upper middle class - with marketing, media, and the thrill of spending and trying to "keep up with the Jones." But I digress. 

I don't really want a revolution as much as a cultural shift. I don't want people to be hurting each other in the streets or taking the anger out on each other. I don't even want people to go the way of the French Revolution or the Chinese Revolution and start executing the wealthy in the street. I just want people to  peacefully change from prioritizing wealth to intelligence. I'd also like to see an end to "brand name" education, and less praise for simply "working hard." Not that there is anything wrong with being diligent and working hard. But sometimes "working smart" is better than "working hard." i.e., sometimes it's smarter to hire someone to do your PR, rather than just tweet whatever you want about your company, whenever. You might think you are saving money by setting up your tweets and facebook points on hootsuite, but you might also be losing money because you majored in astrophysics and don't know how to talk to people. (weird example, I know.) 

I can go on forever. Thanks for reading! 

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EyeQueue

Posted

I am so with you on most of this. I would love for people to start valuing time over money and do the working smart thing so they have more time to engage in community projects, artistic pursuits, etc. I'm so tired of the seeming competition among my peers about who is the busiest. It gets old and it's something I've definitely opted out of.

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Grimalkin

Posted

         It's funny, parents say they value education, what they really value is grades. It sometimes seems little value is placed on actual intellectualism. I can go on and on but I'm tired.

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