Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Ethical Roots -- a little personal history

Personal note. It's a been quiet here for awhile; my apologies. The short version of the long explanation is that in early December, I had a pin removed from the finger I broke playing football in October, and discovered that using it became difficult and more painful without that support. Between the trials of left-handed typing and the usual December holiday-grading-graduation frenzy, blogging went bye-bye.

This was the year I decided to bring my personal and academic pursuits into closer alignment, and Nice White Lady was the beginning of that process. In my everyday life, I have spent my entire adult life trying to figure out how to live out my values. Those values were mostly the result of my upbringing in a frugal-by-necessity, blue-collar home. My parents, a printer and a nurse, were highly literate but wary of the pretentiousness that they associated with educated intellectuals. Most of the houses we lived in were rented, we rarely ate out (and hardly ever in restaurants with tablecloths) and my wardrobe came from the sewing machine or Sears, sometimes by way of my older brother's closet. I can still hear my mother reminding us, "waste not, want not", the detested mantra of my adolescence.

But all of this was experienced in the larger context of the ever-expanding consumer frenzy that was the 1950s and 60s.  As my father moved from printing to the newsroom to the publisher's office, our family became slightly more affluent and attained higher status in our small town. He loved his cars, stereo equipment and hundreds of LPs. She embraced convenience foods and modern appliances, after a lifetime of household drudgery -- and I can't blame her. They both learned to love expensive entertaining both as an indulgence and a way to establish and maintain status. Since financial security didn't come to them until I was in my late teens, I labeled their behavior "hypocritical" and embraced the counter culture.

To be continued...

No comments: