How one American suburbanite is trying to foster a healthy local economy

This is my neighborhood. We are people trying to get away from the city just enough to escape the rules and regulations, but not so much that we have drive too far to get to Target. We’re American consumers, blue-collar workers, homemakers, nurses, police officers, small business owners, veterans and retirees.

Listening to Wendell Berry this evening got me thinking about the culture I live in. The culture I’ve built. The economy I’m part of.

I buy clothes with tags that say they were made in Taiwan, Indonesia and China. I buy milk, ground beef and chicken thighs at Sam’s club. My neighbors, like me, probably give little thought to where our food and cloths come from. But we’re also a people trying to take the dirt on our little 1-2 acre plots of desert and produce something good from it.

My neighbor has a wonderful garden, milks dairy goats, makes cheese and all kinds of wonderful dishes from her small homesteadish place.

We, like most of our neighbors, have chickens, and very rarely have to buy eggs from the grocery store. We also have goats and make soap from the goat milk we’ve stored over the years.

In Berry’s essay, “Total Economy,” he writes how I, and those in my neighborhood have given proxy to corporations to provide ALL of our food, clothing and shelter, even our entertainment, education and care for our children, sick and elderly. And he’s right.

But I am seeking to live in a repentant posture from this proxy.

Why? Because I believe I was made by God to, “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28) and be my brothers keeper (Genesis 4:9), and love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39), in a way that reflects God’s goodness.

I don’t believe I was made to let corporations do all of the subduing for me, do all the caring for my children, the sick in my community and the elderly in my life, so that I can do all the consuming.

I believe God made me to do the good, small and local work of all those efforts.

I can’t, of course, produce everything I need to live in this time and place on my little one acre lot. I can’t do all the caring for my children, or tend to the needs of al the elderly and infirm in my life. But I can do what I can do.

My next effort to push up through the concrete proxy I’ve given to corporations is to learn to plant something my family and I can eat, visit my neighbors, and humbly give thanks for those who make my clothes, package my chicken and care for my children and elderly neighbors.

From a hospital nurse: We need to treat the community like a hospital right now

woman in black coat and face standing on street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

I don’t work in a Covid unit. I don’t have to wear an N-95 mask all day. But I do work in a hospital full of very sick people with rapidly increasing numbers of people with Covid 19.

This month a friend, and church member died from Covid 19.

At the hospital my nurse friends cry, take deep breaths, pray and go to work in a building full of men and women sick enough to be hospitalized with this virus. They perform high-risk treatments and provide personal care, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Nurses know how to minimize transmission of contagious disease. Preventing the spread of disease is a key pillar of our profession. We know that we don’t have to know exactly how coronavirus spreads and how long the incubation period is to enact practices for preventing the spread of this disease or any virus. Hospital nurses work in a world with contagious disease everywhere. And this hospital nurse has a message: Right now we all need to treat the world like a hospital.

In the hospital there are very sick people with Covid as well as people with strokes, heart attacks, injuries from trauma and more. Nurses, aides, housekeepers, doctors, respiratory therapists, imaging techs and all the above sick and injured people are in the same building. In the hospital we’re caring for patients, having meetings, making schedules, eating lunch, going to to the bathroom, etc. Life and death and the effort to push back death in the hospital carries on. How does it carry on?

We wash our hands, wear masks, distance ourselves, and then wash our hands again and again and again.

We do what we have to do to keep each other and our patients from getting sick with something we don’t see or feel but could be passing to someone else.

We were doing this before COVID and we’ll be doing it after.

This is how we must behave in the world right now. This is why we need to wear masks, and wash our hands frequently and keep our distance from others. When we go to Walmart or to church services. When we fill our cars with gas or visit a friend. This is how we must go about our business. This is how we must live in our communities with Covid 19.

It’s not easy, fun or fair. But it’s the best way we know to push back death and disease and care for one another.