I believe addiction [Andrew Weil, “Why We Are All Addicted,” July 1994] began with the birth of agriculture and the idea of getting other people to do the hard work for you! Addiction came with repetitive work not done by choice. It distracted people from the disappearance of the freedom they enjoyed as nomadic gatherers in Eden. Restoring Eden would be fabulous, except that one man’s Eden includes beer and pretzels.
Some of the letters in the Correspondence section of your July 1994 issue saddened me. I subscribe to thirty-three magazines, but never have I read anything as nakedly beautiful as what I read in The Sun. Every issue just breaks my heart; if I had my way you would never change a thing.
As I read Art Homer’s excellent memoir “The Meek” [June 1994], I realized that my spirit oscillates between Orwellian despair and Utopian romanticism. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the ability to go back to the land is a city worker’s ace in the hole against economic slavery. But the homesteading days are over, and as Homer so colorfully reminds dreamers like me, few people would have the grit, stamina, or know-how to live on the land if it were still available.
Utopianism is like chasing a carrot that would turn out to be mealy if we ever caught it. Hoping for the future to magically deliver us from the present turns our attention away from the work that could transform our lives right now.
If I become aware of the habits that bind me to the past and exert my free will to ignore the carrots that would lead me into the future, I find myself feeling a part of the eternal here and now. I feel like the meek have already inherited the earth. And I know that it is up to me, the meek, to treat my inheritance with as much wisdom and compassion as I can muster.
Bill Appledorf [Correspondence, June 1994] says that feminism is a symptom of contemporary society’s divorce from nature because feminists see politics everywhere. He says that feminists believe that we are all engaged in a struggle rather than simply “surrender[ing],” as he would have it, “to the process of life.”
But we humans, lacking the natural defenses of other animals, have the natural defense of intellect on our side. I use the intellectual substance of feminism as a defense against feeling trapped by traditional female roles. To achieve the sense of freedom I am seeking, I struggle against a lifetime of cultural messages. To “surrender to the process of life” would mean denying that my struggle is worthwhile. I wish there were no struggle, but in my reality there is.
Many times The Sun has contained essays and interviews that inspire me. Recent issues, however, have left me feeling sad and sickened, as if three-quarters of the people in the world live with either the memory or the violent reality of sexual abuse. My heart goes out to these poor souls, but I fail to see what good it does for their suffering to be relived again and again.
I myself have known the horror of rape, and I have worked hard to heal that wound in my psyche. I don’t need to take on images of others’ horrors as well. The more we retell these atrocities, the more power we give them. I prefer to give what power I can to images of a hopeful, loving, caring world.
About to set off on my first solo camping adventure, I stopped at the nearby co-op for some dried persimmons and cranberries. There I lifted The Sun from a tightly packed magazine shelf. I had company, after all. Every article captivated and lifted my spirit in that small orange tent by a river.