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A rural lifestyle is a romantic vision

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Dear HCN,

Every time I read a "protect our constitutional rights' or "jobs save our rural lifestyle" rap (HCN, 1/23/95), I think of two things:

The first is that a "rural" lifestyle is a romantic vision that these people have not lived for several generations, if then. They do not grow much of their own food. They rarely exchange labor and raw materials and finished goods with their neighbors. They are not living off the land by virtue of outdoor survival skills honed from experience and passed through generations in place. They are not living a lifeway of communion with that place.

Instead, they live a "rurban" existence. Other than having more space around them, their existence is an urban one. They buy most of their food, and it comes from far, far away. They extract energy from their environment using tools and supplies produced by the labor of people outside their community, add their own labor, and then export the results for the benefit of others far outside their community. (When the logger builds a house, do you think the wood he buys comes from his own or his neighbor's logs?) They ask for, receive, and staunchly cling to tax breaks, subsidies, and exclusive public-land leases (even when a neighbor might "need" it more than they). They rely on technology, machines, chemicals, and software that are produced by people they have never met, let alone been related to, and who lack any knowledge of their "place" or "survival skills." They sit in front of their TVs, VCRs, and Internet links, watching the same set of artificial experiences from which they receive their "sense of place."

The second thing I always think of is that there are far more attacks upon our constitutional rights that seem to get ignored by these folks. For instance, what about citizens denied the right to vote because they don't have an address? Or what about the serious erosion of rights called the "War on Drugs'? One of those rights it attacks just happens to be "private property," in the form of "civil forfeiture," which is done by violating another right called "innocent until proven guilty," and the "double-jeopardy" clause, and the "excessive fines' clause, and, and, and.

When extractive corporations set up shop in a community, a great deal of people still remain unemployed, unfed, unhoused, etc. When "local control for the benefit of our community" advocates start recognizing those people as also part of their community, I will better be able to believe that they are sincere about "community." When "protect our constitutional rights' advocates start demanding an end to the way our "War on Drugs' is conducted, and demand an end to all denials of constitutional rights, then I will believe them.

Until then, I call it hypocrisy.

Jim Green

McKenzie Bridge, Oregon

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