7/11/2010

Why is Loitering a Crime?

"I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass." (Walt Whitman)

For Whitman, the bottom line was poetry. Whitman, Keats, Shelly and Wordsworth spent quality time mindfully loafing. Out of their moments of non-doing came sublime literature.

For Jesus and the poets of the Bible, the bottom line was prophecy. Fasting in the desert, they also fasted from work. But their vision changed civilizations.

Even scientists practice periods of intentional loafing. Einstein's theory of relativity had its inception in a daydream, when he imagined what it would be like to slide down a beam of sunlight.

In our corporate culture, the bottom line isn't poetry or prophecy, but profit. In many American cities, you can get arrested for loitering. Daydreaming is considered a waste of time. Loafing is no longer a respectable spiritual practice, but a threat to monthly production quotas, and the national GNP.

What happened on BP's oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is a direct result of corporate thinking. Maintain frenetic productivity each minute of every hour. Take whatever short-cuts you need to meet production quotas. Don't stop for a single moment to listen, reflect, and ask, "What the hell are we really accomplishing? Is this happiness?" Even the multi-millionaire president of the company ends up whining, "I want my life back."

Corporate America wants your children to become diligent, productive little drones who never practice the subversive art of mindful loafing. They are already learning this lifestyle in their schools. The oligarchs who run this country know that, if we spend time loafing, we might actually become aware. 

God forbid the worker bee doubt the fate of the hive. God forbid we come to realize, in a precious moment of loitering, that our cultural hive is bound to collapse, because it is based on a contradiction.

Our philosophical, religious and literary heritage teaches us that happiness is the fruit of simplicity, temperance and the renunciation of gross materialism. Yet our economy runs on constant spending and expansion of GNP: every citizen's duty is the accumulation of far more than anyone actually needs.

Clearly, the solution to our social, political, and environmental problems is a new lifestyle: a lifestyle of simpler, more sustainable earth-friendly living. Yet the fact is, if we ever stopped buying extraneous junk, redundant technologies, and more shoes than we could wear out in a lifetime, our economy would collapse.

You really don't want to think about this, do you? Better get back to work. Besides, if you start asking too many questions, you might get arrested for loitering.

1 comment:

Fernanda Torres said...

I was looking for an answer to why the USA arrests people for loitering. I found many so far, most of them say that that's only f you're in private property, but I've heard of people being arrested for being in the park doing nothing, mostly teenagers and young adults... And then I stumbled upon your blog entry and it fits. It fits so well, because I believe it's true. In my country you won't get arrested for being in a park at 2 am unless you're doing something bad, and by bad I mean vandalism or drug dealing or something like that. Granted Mexico isn't the safest most advanced place, but at least if people aren't doing anything wrong on the park they are let be... At least that was like four years ago.
So yeah, what I'm trying to say is that your blog entry was spot on, people dislike others being happy doing nothing, at least for a while.