It's Not Selling Out -- It's Just Life

In high school, I swore I'd never sell out to the establishment. But after growing older, I find that I am a member of the establishment even though I don't feel like I've sold out. Perhaps I'm just fooling myself. As a teenager, there were connotations of selling my soul to the capitalist devil, but I didn't delve too deeply into it because I didn't believe in the concept of souls. I knew I didn't want to grub for a living while raising kids and voting for rich white male Congressmen to get us into pointless wars.

Now I believe in souls, but not in the establishment.

We just bought a minivan which means we've for sure joined the ranks of soccer mom suburbia. But we already had a station wagon. The two-door hatchback was too awkward when trying to get a baby in a child-seat in and out of the back 4 or 5 times a day. A four-door alleviated that problem, and the back of a station wagon provided ample room for the stroller and playpen and other accouterments of 20th century American family life. There were good reasons for getting a bigger car so we did. And now we need a car that can carry two kids and some of their friends or our friends along with a picnic basket and back packs.

Although from the outside looking in it would look bad to my teenage self, I don't feel like I've sold out. For one, having children has really given me a handle on the idea of my own soul. I've got one, and I've created two others with my wife, and I'm really, really happy about it. I wouldn't sell any of our souls for any amount of money (which is one reason I buy used cars and do lots of work around the house and yard myself). And I don't vote for wars, or wasting money, or even stealing money (taxes backed up by the power of the gun) to pay for what appear on the surface to be good ideas. Yet many of my friends and coworkers (who happen to drive minivans and live in suburbia) disagree with my political or religious or social leanings so they vote and pray and play in their own ways.

We aren't much of an establishment except in the basic way we approach life: We each want food and shelter and comfort just like any other living being on the face of the earth (and probably off of it too). And just like in my teenage fantasies. I didn't plan on being a dad with two kids and a mortgage when I was in high school. My ill-formed idea of the future was eking out a living in a post-nuclear holocaust world. I planned on how I'd find vital food and shelter, and even fantasized about comfort, how I'd live on an island in the Bahamas, keeping warm in a thatched hut with a girl who looked a lot like Marsha from The Brady Bunch. That was as far as I'd planned, but I suspect even in that situation we'd have ended up with kids and being concerned about their future and their current comfort. We survivors would end up creating our own establishment.

There is no conspiracy buying adult souls for votes for foreign wars. There is just an amalgam of lots of individuals making thousands of individual decisions about food, shelter, and comfort that happen to coincide (just as the decisions for many animals about their environment happen to coincide into a preferred habitat). So if you see this former war protesting antiestablishment hippie driving around town in a minivan with two kids and a wife, I haven't sold out.

But I'd better keep my eyes open to avoid becoming too comfortable.