Everything in America seems more extreme than in the UK. It was in Kingston, NY that I first became interested in self-sufficiency and alternate energy and foraging for wild foods. I carried Stalking The Wild Asparagus round in my pocket, and Mother Earth News was my bible.
There seemed to be a huge gulf between the log-haired, sandal-wearing hippies who were building earth-sheltered housing and building early prototypes of the Toyota Prius, 35 years ago in their garages, and people driving gas-guzzlers that only did 10mpg, and hacking down forests. When my time with IBM in Kingston was up and I went back to the UK, everything there seemed tame. I couldn’t find the dedicated environmentalists, but we were all driving cars that did 30-40mpg, and insulating our lofts anyway. In the UK the ends of various spectrums seemed not so far apart.
It seems the same to me now, but the issues are different. Now it seems to be a battle between Big-Ag and those who would like not to get diabetes, CVD, Alzheimer’s and cancer, and between intelligence and what seems to me, as a part-time outsider, as wilful and celebrated ignorance.
For a while I kept quiet, because I was never quite sure what side my American friends were on and I didn’t want to offend anyone, but quite quickly I realised that I couldn’t, in all conscience, keep quiet. It would have done violence to me, and would have been unfair to a country that has done a lot for me (like given me my loving wife and family!)
Recently a Facebook friend expressed hurt at what was perceived as my attacks on America. I see what I do as a defence of America, so it seemed like time to explain what I was up to.
I wrote my friend a letter: “I am not anti-American“. I’d be interested to hear what you think.