Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Life Swap

Have you ever seen television's Wife Swap? Joselle and I managed to watch an episode together last night, thanks to telephone technology. As seems typical, the show focuses on oddly-paired people who breathe fire at each other while learning valuable life lessons. Joselle and I learned a lesson or two of our own by watching this Wife Swap program: 1.) Most people are not terribly functional in our society; and 2.) No two people eat the same exact way.

Couple A idolizes its miniature doggies with fancy feasts and hand-knitted sweaters, all while worshiping the convenience of gas-guzzling automobiles and gas-inducing, meat-based fast food. Couple B is the epitome of West-Coast American environmentalism with its freegan dumpster-diving, human-waste-recycling backyard agriculture, and overall placidity. Both couples are a hoot---and quite extreme in their own idiosynchratic ways. When dumped together under one roof, the mutual menu is a hard sell. Mom from Couple A thinks that people who "pee on their garden" are "sick." Mom from Couple B thinks that fried chicken is definitely not the way to a household at peace with itself---and the lazy SUV in the garage sure isn't helping any.

Can't we all just get along? Yeah, I find myself leaning more toward the green-grass side of Couple B, but I like to think that Couple A isn't completely diabolical for living out a microculture that's so popularly acceptable at the macrocultural level (even though Dad from Couple B said something about Mom from Couple A being birthed when "Lucifer lifted his leg"). As difficult as a mutual menu can be to achieve, it's not that far off from the multiculturalism that's broadcast to a modern, democratic American society in the form of racial ethnicity, national origin, spiritual belief system, etc. The possibilities for balance are well within our grasp, but the world is definitely spinning out of control.

In the end, the question will stand: Who will be the most grounded in our shared reality? Hopefully, we all will; not just humans, but also the hipster canines in their tight sweaters, and chickens in the fryer at your favorite fast-food restaurant.

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