online: 19 december 2003
modified: 19 december 2003

18 december 2003 before Christmas

13:16 I'm out early today - in time to see ice on the viaduct pond, thick white frost on the frozen ground that is still in shadow, and a bluish mist up to a metre high over frozen ground in the distance... When I reached the mist it became invisible... and when I looked at the melting hoar frost I saw in its place small droplets of water shining like green jewels in the short grass. Outside the shadowed areas the air is quite warm and the sun is shining.

While on the frosty ground I saw a dog, a lurcher I think you'd call it, rolling and rubbing its spine on the grass in what looked to me like a canine ecstasy.

Arriving at the outdoor cafe in time for lunch I've had some soup instead of tea and cake and now I'm looking again at the clear sky and at the silhouetted branches. Polite and well-fed looking people sit on the sunny side of the garden, most of them also eating soup, and talking, or reading newspapers. And among us, but apart, is the man who is clearing the tables. I think he comes from Africa.

And also apart are the many unseen people who built this place, made the soup, wrote and distributed the newspapers. Not to mention the millions worldwide who sell their lives to provide our clothes, houses, cars, phones, computers, cheap food, etc. in exchange for the money to buy similar goods and services - but perhaps fewer and of worse quality...

The inequalities in all this are as intolerable as ever - though the number of us who can afford the middle class life is vast and growing. But, but, but... the whole process surely leads to disaster, so how and when are some of us, at least, going to do what it will take to find a better way to live in such numbers, or perhaps to become fewer and more discriminating? That is the unspoken question. How long can this last, this unbounded economic growth and forced materialism?

As I get ready to go I see a man who is eating a plate of food without use of his eyes as he reads the newspaper that is spread like a tablecloth before him. Is he reading of the inequalities and dangers of industrial life as it is - and is he one of those who one day may speak out and change the direction of industrial culture, gradually or with violence?

As I wrote those thoughts I could hear small birds singing in the trees nearby and now I hear a dog barking. I remembered that the birds and the beasts (as they used to be called) can seem as materialistic as any of us. And they can also show affection.

On the web:
Asking google to search for "negative growth" revealed this - an organisation (named NPG, negative population growth) that calls for the USA, and the world, to reduce population. But reducing production seems to me the way to do it... and before that: a change of mind.

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