Extraction contraction

When the industrializing European culture hit American shores half a millennium ago, there wasn’t much here except what God and the native peoples had made.

This was a virgin continent for sure.

Our English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian et al forebears got busy developing the unspoiled continent, slowly metamorphosing raw earth into commodities and products useful for civilization.

This development process required extraction.

For a few hundred years we were busily pulling stuff out of the land. We planted crops, harvested them, ate the food thereof. We chopped down forests and converted all that wood and pulp into houses, furniture, and paper. We dug and drilled the ground, pulling out water, oil, gold, silver, and iron.

We melted and we smelted; we forged and we gorged; we built and built, strove and drove; we ate and drank. Then while we slept, the wheels of commerce kept rollin’ on, while profits an paychecks rolled in.

We woke up on Monday morning and did some more; we toiled in the day, we worked into the night.  We manufactured, fabricated, alternated, generated; we designed and aligned, we account-padded and value-added. We sold and rolled. We were productive and we were bold ; we were young and now we’re old. Now it’s time for reflection in the evening, perchance goodbyes in the evening. May old acquaintance be not forgot, and always brought to mind.

By God’s grace, we shall rise tomorrow morn.

But in in our human wake, the earth is torn.

So nowadays we’re phasing out all the extractive stuff, or at least thinking about it.

We’ve discovered the terrible price of tearing up earth in order to pull resources out of the ground for further development. Slowly we convince ourselves that our planet can no longer afford to supply, with its raw investiture, the extractive extravagant carbon-spewing, fracking-cracking excesses of our past. It seems we can’t keep going like this without depleting Earth to death.

So we begin to pull back on all the extraction. We outlaw clearcutting timber. We pooh-pooh open pit mining, criticize deepwater drilling, wail over crude oil spilling, regulate rapacious milling and legislate 24-ounce overfilling.

We convert our economies to service industries. Now we’re cutting each other’s hair, laundering each other’s clothes, keeping the books, complimenting the cooks, filling the nooks, filling the crannies, taking care of each other’s grannies.

We develop software, digitize hardware; we’re playing whack-a-mole with malware, while whacking at the cost of health care; now we’re virtualizing virtuosity, corralling creativity, curtailing suspicious activity. Let us now securitize mortgages, consolidate storages, collateralize the debts, take vacations in the sunsets. Surely It’s time to securitize airports, containerize  seaports, and spectate the extreme sports,  while we salivate to tip a few,  or sip a brew, and channel-surf on cable, while we’re still able. We used to surf the net; now we milk it for all we can get.

For the best deal possible.

It used to be we sweated out holes in the ground to pull stuff out; new we’ve come to cruising the lanes of cyberspace, California-style, and exploring the overstocked waters of Amazon. Sometimes we still have to roam the aisles of China-mart to find what we’re looking for.

But we may never find it until we ourselves are extracted from this present arrangement of things.

Glass Chimera

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