Friday, September 20, 2013

Leaving Behind Barbieland

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yesterday evening I did something I wish not to do again.  It was nothing all that horrible really.  I ate at Burger King.

In the vast expanse of human horrors eating at Burger King would seem quite minor.  And indeed it is...essentially.  And yet there is something about sitting eating food whose history I know little about among people I have never previously met while under the gaze of two security cameras and bathed in fluorescent lighting that I find quite unsettling.

While I ate I noted how much of my surroundings were made of plastic.  The tray my food was served on was plastic.  The seating was plastic.  And the feelings I had as I consumed my meal and gazed about felt quite "plastic" as well.  I found myself feeling shame that my occasional apathy regarding cooking well and eating well had left me satisfied with fare offered up by Burger King.  Yes, shame is indeed the word to describe but one feeling I had.  The manner in which I lived last night was antithetical to that which I experienced a week ago at the Minnesota Men's Conference.  Whereas the conference afforded me experiences of fellowship, intimacy, health, encouragement and joy the act of eating by myself in a world of plastic and strangers was essentially something that belongs to a world on the other side of a spectrum.  Last night was an experience that featured isolation, "passing" (i.e. just getting by in regards to nutrition), artificial colors and seating not especially welcoming to the human form.

So much of my life has felt fake or plastic.  After leaving Burger King I retrieved my bicycle and noticed one of the cover stories of the newspaper.  As I have noted in previous posts I have found it very difficult to follow any news whatsoever since returning from my trip to Germany on June 1st.  There on the front page was a story about the latest fight between Republicans and Democrats in which the Republicans are agitating (for the umpteenth time) to vote to defund Obamacare.  I cannot ever recall a time in my own life when the Republican party has offered less in terms of creativity, compassion and sensible policy as it does now.  They have become the party of corporate whores.  Also in the news was a proposed bill that would cut $40 billion from the SNAP (food stamps) program over the next decade.  Somehow the Republicans seem to think it wise public policy to further shred the safety net so that those most in need of it are left in potentially more desperate circumstances.  I honestly do not know what happened to my country.

This nation, this country I grew up in, feels like a hollow shell of its former self.  I have no desire to idolize the past.  In many respects this country has moved forward in the last several decades.  Civil rights is one example.  And yet in many other respects I feel as if we are throttling backwards.  The rise of corporations such as Monsanto leaves me feeling very worried for the future.  I cannot describe our country as a vital democracy without wincing or feeling a bit nauseated.

It seems fair to call this nation Barbieland.  A pop song that was popular a few years ago keeps resounding through my mind.  It's a song about Barbie.  And one of the most telltale lines is:
"Laughing plastic, it's fantastic".  That seems to describe the United States well.  We eat "foods" that have been banned in many other nations.  With all the toxic nonsense that swirls around embedded within our food supply we truly are becoming a population of laughing plastic people.  And yet as I was sitting in Burger King surrounded by plastic I did not find myself laughing.  I found myself feeling sadness and revulsion.  It's as if I was participating in a ritual of alienation.

I have noticed that recently I seem to be developing a genuine following here on my blog.  I find that heartwarming.  Those of you who are reading may feel as if I am speaking in hyperbole.  Perhaps that is a fair assessment.  I can nonetheless say that I do not want to be part of a plastic world where so much is contrived, masked and fake.  I want to leave behind Barbieland and the many plastic signposts of this nation.  I want to rediscover my roots in the deepest way possible.

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!