Thursday, May 7, 2009

Front Porch Republic

Dave pointed me to a new website the other day called Front Porch Republic. From their mission statement:

We live in a world characterized by a flattened culture and increasingly meaningless freedoms. Little regard is paid to the necessity for those overlapping local and regional groups, communities, and associations that provide a matrix for human flourishing. We’re in a bad way, and the spokesmen and spokeswomen of both our Left and our Right are, for the most part, seriously misguided in their attempts to provide diagnoses, let alone solutions.

The articles I've read so far are well-written and well thought out. David points to one about why one of the authors doesn't own a television.

I was touched by this one about our current disposable society. Some good quotes:

Convenience combined with busyness amid prosperity is a perfect recipe for thoughtlessness. We don’t often think about what we are doing, because it’s increasingly rare for us to be in the midst of what it is we are doing. We have long grown accustomed to living in a virtual reality created for us by a combination of jobs that aren’t in any fundamental way connected to the reality of our daily lives, along with electronic forms of media that involve us as a “culture” in events and occurrences that are in no way related to our places, the people we know, the neighborhoods we inhabit. [...] This virtual reality - fostered by our work and our home life - has only been increased by the electronic media that we now carry with us everywhere, keeping us constantly “connected” and ever-more rarely present the actual place where we are. So, as we stir the cream into our coffee in the morning, doubtlessly we are more likely to be thinking about the meeting we are about to attend or the text message we need to return than the source and destination of the coffee stirrer that resides in our hands for several seconds then passes into the waste receptacle whose presence we barely register.
And later:

Above all, Americans lived in conditions that tempted them to neglect their ties to generations. After all, many came to escape the past - which was also tantamount to escaping from too much concern for the future. Unlike those nations with aristocratic pasts - even those that are now democratic - there was only a much more tenuous and often fleeting cultural forms that fostered in successive generations a felt sense of gratitude to the past and a sense of oligation to the future. Americans are prone to think of themselves as mayflies, each new generation responsible for creating its own world anew. While even in America there were vestiges of an older understanding of the connection of past, present and future - in particular Tocqueville thought those connections could be found in family, townships, rule of law and religion, above all - he believed them to be in danger of loosening with the likely trajectory of democracy and especially the restlessness that it induced. Our employment of fossil fuels only accelerated that trajectory, promoting the belief and practice that each individual of each generation was responsible to itself alone. The virtual life led by modern Americans disassociates us not only from place, from the continuum of time as well.

It's definitely a blog I will be keeping my eyes on in the future.

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