Part 7: Quality of life, big cities, crowding, gridlock, human spirit
My friend John Muir, the first environmentalist, said many years ago, “Tell me what you will of the benefactions of city civilization, of the sweet security of streets—all as part of the natural up-growth of man towards the high destiny we hear so much of. I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found. If the death exhalations that brood the broad towns in which we so fondly compact ourselves were made visible, we should flee as from a plague. All are more or less sick; there is not a perfectly sane man in all of San Francisco.”
Nor, for that matter, in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Denver as well as most other overcrowded, gridlocked and congested cities swarming with too many people. How can anyone love breathing toxic air, drive a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, deal with road rage in others and themselves, and stack themselves up in tiny cubicle apartment buildings? They call it living? I pitch other words into the circle: loss of spirit, loss of community, loss of grass, loss of connection with nature!
UNITED STATES ON ITS WAY TO ADDING 100 MILLION PEOPLE IN 25 YEARS
The bigger the city, the more crazy and unbalanced people multiply in it. Muir wasn’t far off in his exclamation that not a single sane man lived in “City by the Bay” that Tony Bennett sang about with his mesmerizing love song, “I left my heart in….”
In big cities, you hear fire engines screaming, ambulances flashing in the night, police sirens at all hours, honking horns, gridlocked traffic, train whistles blowing, so many citizens flipping the bird at one another, beggars on every corner and a loss of connection as everyone sees everyone else as a threat. No one looks anyone in the eyes while walking down the street for fear of…name the phobia. For visuals, graffiti adorns millions of city buildings.
At one time, Detroit, Michigan, at its zenith, became known as the “Murder Capitol of the World.” I worked there for 15 years to witness it. I mean, those boys shot up the joint. Over one million people fled the city in the last 30 years to leave it a wasteland. They fled car-jackings at stop lights. Drugs flowed everywhere and desperate people overwhelmed homeless shelters.
Every kind of sickening human behavior manifests in big cities: incest of five year old girls, animal cruelty, child cruelty, misogyny, rape, murder, sex trafficking, entrenched poverty, illiteracy, drugs, shoplifting, burglaries, arson and every kind of aberrant human behavior!
Today, Phoenix, Arizona, a big city, suffers 57,000 cars stolen annually. (Source: Department of Motor Vehicles, AZ) Its schools suffer violence from the sixth grade onward. Los Angeles finds itself picking up millions of pounds of trash left out in the streets by anyone with a car and a bag. Schools suffer over 100 languages and less than 50 percent graduation rates from high schools. It’s so bad, police won’t patrol in the 20,000 members of the “18th Street Gang”.
As with the MS-13 gangs, now operating in 30 states with over 20,000 members, they distribute drugs and make an estimated 900,000 U.S. teenagers drug dealers. Most follow a life of crime until arrested or killed.
AN AVERAGE OF 30,000 AMERICANS COMMIT SUICIDE ANNUALLY
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000. The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, with firearms used in 16,907 suicides in the United States during 2004. An average of 29,000 Americans commit suicide annually by all forms. Where? In cities! John Muir made a point!
Many years ago, Itzhak Bentov wrote a book: Stalking the Wild Pendulum. In the work, he noted how everything in the universe ‘vibrates’ at certain calibrations. Everything works in ‘harmony’ with rocks, dirt, water, fire, air, wind, rain, etc. Humans vibrate at something like seven megahertz a second, but I forgot the actual figure.
In the book, he noted how Western humanity slowly drove itself crazy via living in cities with boxed dwellings, driving in steel and glass-enclosed cars at 60 mile per hour, walking on concrete and rarely able to venture out of its concrete jungle to the serendipity of the wilderness—from which all humans evolved over millions of years.
Thus, humans in cities suffered a loss of their natural rhythms, their natural ‘vibrations’ that worked within the realm of nature. As they lost touch with nature, they became more and more ‘un-harmonic’ with their eco-system. Some take weekends off to sit by a river, or in the wilderness via camping or by the beach to ‘reharmonize’ their vibrations. They learned how to cope with their city environment.
Most city dwellers, cannot travel out into the wilderness, therefore, they remain ‘un-harmonic’, and spiritually and physically distressed. Those individuals found ways to cope by smoking, drinking, drug usage, overeating and a dozen other activities to cope with their ‘distress’ or lack of internal harmony with nature. Obviously, they all suffer a form of emotional, spiritual and physical disharmony that degrades their quality of life with headaches, stress, anger and a myriad of problems they can never figure out, nor can they solve as long as they live in the city.
The fact is, if you read Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape or Robert Audrey’s African Genesis and Territorial Imperative, we remain animals, albeit animals that think, yet we require the natural vibrations of the wilderness in order to remain mentally, physically and spiritually connected and healthy.
Cities breed a collective unhealthiness featured every evening on the news in every major city in the world. The bigger the city, the more killings and other aberrant behaviors. The smaller the city, the less the mayhem. And, when you visit cities of less than 1,000, they suffer virtually no crime whatsoever. Everybody knows each other and community binds them to a common tribe and identity.
If we, as a civilization allow another 100 million people to be added to America, and then, another 100 million and 200 million beyond that, we shall see our civilization delivered into a kind of ‘madness’ or unhealthiness heretofore never experienced in the United States. You can see the results in Mexico City with 24 million, or in 28 million in Tokyo, Japan, or Mumbai, India with 18 million, San Paulo, Brazil with 17 million, Shanghai, China with 14 million, Los Angeles with 13 million.
I have visited those places. Pretty depressing on every level! Do we want that for our country, our cities, and our civilization? I would venture to say that you are rotating your head in the negative. What are you going to do about it?
“Scientists remind us that nature intended human beings should spend most of their hours beneath open skies. With appetites sharpened by outdoor living, they should eat plain food. They should live at their natural God-given paces, un-oppressed by the artificial hurry and tension of man-made civilization. “Yet the mass of city men, stalking their meat at the crowded market instead of in the green woods or the cool marshes, put up with existences of quiet desperation. Their incessant anxiety and strain is a well-nigh incurable form of disease.” – Col. Townsend Whelen 1877 – 1961
Would you agree with my friend John Muir? “Tell me what you will of the benefactions of city civilization, of the sweet security of streets—all as part of the natural up-growth of man towards the high destiny we hear so much of. I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found. If the death exhalations that brood the broad towns in which we so fondly compact ourselves were made visible, we should flee as from a plague. All are more or less sick; there is not a perfectly sane man in all of San Francisco.”
Denver Post Your Hub March 17, 2010 ##