Saturday, February 20, 2016

Earning Spring

It's supposed to be a very mild, Spring-like day today here, following a short period of wintry weather, and I can't shake the feeling that Spring has, in some way, not been earned.  I probably don't need to dig back too far to figure out where this line of thinking/feeling originates:  it feels rather Christian, WASPy, this idea that good things must be earned by depriving yourself of them, and that you can't just have them because they are there.

In fact, I half wonder whether this attitude might not be shaded by the
fact that the Christian worldview was so intensively formed within the 4-season paradigm of Europe. Certainly Ecclesiastes 3 ("To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven") was written within a climatic zone where the difference between winter and summer was less dramatic than what people experienced in temperate Europe, and in particular the northern Europe whence Protestantism and its intense notions of predestination took shape. But it certainly feels right that the northern seasons imbued the cyclical worldview of Ecclesiastes with deeper coloring. I would be shocked if there aren't a number of books written about this topic.

Speaking of cyclicality and earning things in a fundemental, ethical sense, there's also the question of demographics, market cycles, and debt, and the way generations lord their sacrifices over on their kids and grandkids. So people brought up during the Depression and the "The Greatest Generation" guilt-tripped to Boomers about their consumption and failure to save.  Or the deep anxiety and recrimination we feel about taking on huge amounts of federal debt for our kids to pay off during a period of negatively shifting dependency ratios (i.e. lower ratio of workers to retirees).

To bring it back to my initial point: lurking inches behind my feelings about "earning Spring" is the worry about global warming, of course, and we all know that has been foisted upon our children.

Then there's the issue of my always trying to interpret things based on religious-cultural background. Sometimes I think the course that I took with Juan Linz based on Weber's Economy and Society back in my sophomore year in college influenced my thinking so profoundly precisely because I did so little of the reading, because it was so boring.

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