Sunday, January 26, 2014

You shelf actualize while....

This afternoon I was reading a book called “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. Its been 75 pages of fun reading so far. Featuring was a place called “Big Hole” Montana. Nested in between mountains, this beautiful place has a struggling economy by conventional standards. There is a lot of in-migration from rich guys from elsewhere, who live in upmarket country homes, normally their 2nd or 3rd. Some turn up for a round of golf for the day in private planes. Traditional economy isn’t doing too well with farming a big activity. Distance from markets makes the place less competitive. Young people leave as soon as they have the option. So it has rich part time residents, with long term residents facing a shortage of young and qualified people. A lament being the impact its having on life locally. Many residents are proud of their place notwithstanding lower cash incomes.

This evening I watched an Al Jazeera feature on Sichuan in China. About how its at the centre of an ultra-large migation of humanity to cities. All return for the Chinese New Year with family. Only the very old and some too young remain. The young and qualified have migrated. The commentator was lamenting the brain drain and the lack of people to do stuff here. None of them want to farm. This isn’t innocent observation but loaded commentary. Lamenting the “loss of agricultural expertize to the city” - a minute later the parent saying the kids hate farming (what expertize would they have picked up?). Very objective….the journalist’s objective.

A few years ago I spent some time in Chamoli district in Uttarkhand at work. A similar situation exists. All the young and educated who have the option leave. Its noticeable in any random community. We reached a conclusion that there was nothing to keep them back here….awaiting some natural disaster and few livelihood options besides livestock and farming (brilliant, weren’t we?).

The recurring theme of the commentators at each of the above:
i) Young people have left for city living
ii) A tradition and culture is dying
iii) how horrible

In each of the above cases, the commentators
i) were all rich and educated (relatively)
ii) not living in their native place at all
iii) had no intentions of doing so in the foreseeable future

and didn’t seem to think that they were doing or had done the same thing.

As if life isn’t difficult and complicated enough for those living in places with few options for personal fulfillment and jobs, they now have to bear the burden or preserving the culture and tradition to revive these dead end towns and villages. To enable that, other folks who’ve left their village and prospered in life in nice places feel better about the great traditions of the planet being handed down. Keep your curiousity for life on the shelf.

You shelf actualize and I’ll self-actualize. That’s the moral of this story.

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