Three Kinds of People

On the shores of Lake Sarnen in central Switzerland, there’s a museli factory. (Of course there is.) It makes many different kinds of muesli for various markets. One of these is an organic chocolate-amaranth concoction that’s basically the only thing my daughter will eat for dinner this week. I happened to glance at the ingredients, and it occurred to me that there are basically three kinds of people in the world.

One reads the ingredients, which, being sold organic in an organic-happy, staunchly locavorous market, naturally lists the countries of origin, realizes the amount of sheer effort that has gone into this seemingly simple, seemingly made-in-Swizterland bag of muesli, and is astounded at the wonderful, terrible machine that is the global economy. Most days, this is me: you can’t really work on the Internet and really think about the capacity for connection it represents without being an avowed globalist of one kind or another.

The second reads the same ingredients and comes to an altogether more pessimistic conclusion: that the ridiculously intricate supply-chain management this list of ingredients represents is unscalable and unsustainable, a terrible waste of effort and energy, that it can’t possibly last so we might as well burn it down now, that Swiss beet sugar is probably just as good as the Paraguayan raw cane anyway.

The third looks at the ingredients, rumples his forhead at all the words, flips the bag around, looks at the picture, thinks, “oooh, chocolate”, and has a bowl of muesli. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in the small. Many people strive for that kind of living in the present, and never get there.

I’m guessing if you’ve read this far you, like me, find yourself somewhere on the continuum between the first two kinds of person. What we need to realize is that today, in the post-factual democratic West, all of the really important decisions are being made by the appointed delegates and elected representatives of the third kind.