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The "Good Life" what is it?

Advertisements counsel us:
"Enjoy life, buy our product, come to where the action is, life begins in our new model home."
In effect, it's a world where everyone seeks his pot of gold and hopes to find the really good life in doing so.
But there's a MISSING DIMENSION in the search for happy and abundant living.
Read here what most people fail to consider.


EVERY WEEKEND restless families by the hundreds of thousands scramble into cars or campers.

Automobiles and trailers loaded with the paraphernalia of pleasure — boats, dune buggies, motorcycles, stereo equipment, television sets, radios, electronic musical instruments — careen down crowded freeways.

They all flee to the same national parks, the same pleasure places, the same wide open spaces. All this mobile madness is part of the search for relaxation and a little taste of happiness. Never, it seems, have humans so fervently desired to "get away from it all."

But a weekend change isn't enough for many.

Americans on the move keep magazine publishers busy changing addresses. City people flee to the suburbs to live in tract homes advertised, "For city people who like to live in the country" or "the town that grows in the park."

Meanwhile, farm dwellers and citizens of rural communities flock to the big cities — two million in the last decade and some 20 million during the last 30 years. With visions of high-paying jobs and gold-paved streets, these country folk flock to decaying cities from which millions of city dwellers fervently flee.

In all this, Americans are looking for the good life — a life of prosperity, peace of mind, fulfillment. Yet, somehow the good life eludes them. Not only Americans, of course. Our whole Western industrialized world is made up of searching, uneasy people — looking for greener grass just over the hill.


We're Riding a Monster

The noted philosopher Joseph Wood Krutch has said of our way of life, "Ours is not only the richest and most powerful civilization that ever existed, but also one of the most uneasy both without and within."

Krutch went on to say, "The monster we have called into existence must be looked after, and he is more demanding of time and attention than the creations of any other civilization. . . . We are mounted on a tiger and it is hard to imagine how we might dismount" (America the Vanishing, Ed. by Samuel R. Ogden, Stephen Greene Press, 1969, pp. 222, 229).

Whether it's creeping bumper to bumper down a freeway in choking traffic four lanes abreast, or pouring coal into power plants which hope to produce 18 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity in the United States alone this decade, or thrusting skyward in a roaring 747 for a destination halfway around the globe, mankind is mounted on a "go-go-go" mechanistic tiger.


"Grow With Us" Syndrome

Yet, who will be the first to dismount the tiger and give up the many "benefits" of a growing economy?

We want autos and airplanes, freeways and concrete skyscrapers, bigger homes and more of them, higher salaries and greater production of factories. The goal is an even higher Gross National Product (where money spent to clean up ill side effects of industrial output is counted in the GNP but a farmer's produce grown for his family is not counted!).

All these have become the measure of our success and progress as a free enterprise system — a monument to our "come grow with us" syndrome. Yet, this philosophy largely neglects the base of any permanently productive society — understanding of and respect for the good earth and the soil that supports all of us.

Today, some few are seeing the follies of "growth for growth's sake": ever-increasing population, over-concentration in giant urban gluts, which have spawned such coined expressions as Bosnewash (for the projected strip city spanning today's Boston, New York, and Washington D.C.), and Sansan (for a strip city from San Francisco to San Diego, including Los Angeles), and Chipitts (for Chicago-Pittsburgh).

And an even more recent coined word ends this massive expansion of suburbia with "Urbicide."

Some few people are leaving the cities, seeking a new and simpler way of life. They are fed up with smog and traffic, with urban cocktails from the tap, with prices out of sight and still climbing, with increased dehumanization of society — reducing men to machines for production of "X" amounts of goods and services, rather than minds to create, to grow, to love and be loved, to express the full gamut of human emotions. Ironically, these were the same people who earlier flocked to the city to attain success, economic stability, education, and happiness. Many left the dull, degrading "farm life" of just a few decades ago to escape its boredom, its poverty, its drab, unchallenging existence.

Since World War II, it is estimated that the number of people living on farms in the United States has decreased from 30 million to a present level of some 10 million people, or about 5% of our total population.

But what caused farm children and farmers, by the millions, to leave the way of life of our ancestors and flock to the cities?

And, paradoxically, why are many others today reversing this trend, searching for the "good life" away from city frustrations?

Today, there is a veritable "back to the earth" movement of various groups. Many even successful individuals are giving up careers to seek the "simple life."


Recapturing a Simple Life

Recently, there have been scattered reports of executives, musicians, movie stars, and others leaving their high-paying jobs and positions for a much simpler way of life they themselves would have spurned before fame and "success" came to them.

One such individual, the singer Glenn Yarbrough, said good-bye to his musical career in the following words:

"When I was a kid, I figured like everyone else does that the more money I had, the more things I'd possess and the happier I'd be," he said. "Well, I was lucky. I obtained the material things when I was relatively young. And it didn't take long to figure out what a ridiculous goal that was," he continued.

Such a philosophy goes contrary to the popular belief that more money and more material possessions equals more happiness. Few people ever realize that money and things alone never make anyone happy. There are other more important elements in the good life.

Yarbrough at age 41 and after much "success" in show business, admitted, "I guess what I'm looking for after all these hectic years is a fairly simple life."


Good Life of "Things"

Amidst such growing dissatisfaction with the hectic American and Western way of life, merchandisers continue to hawk their wares. One recent advertisement for a major credit card promised abundant living through "sports, food, fashions, the theater, and all the rest of 'the good life.'"

And people gullibly swallow such propaganda. It's the stuff of our Western economy. It's "American," or "British," just as apple pie or chocolate candy.

Buy. Travel. "Give yourself a little present. Our credit card is honored at thousands of establishments over the world," go the ads.

Yet, to a growing number of dissatisfied people, our Western way of life is unfulfilling — a continual search which never comes to fruition, a gold-leaf-over-paper-maché image. Yet, is simply going "back to the earth" enough to bring the good life? What is the key — the missing dimension — that will bring human happiness?


A "Great Society" for All

We all want peace, happiness, prosperity — a sense of security and well-being. No one desires to live in misery and poverty. Everyone would like personal fulfillment and satisfaction, pleasure and peace of mind. All these make up the truly GOOD LIFE.

Man has searched for this abundant life as long as he has walked the face of the earth. Ironically, history is a written record of man's failure to attain these high ideals, goals and dreams.

Every attempt to build a true utopia — a really Great Society — has failed or is failing.

Politicians, military leaders and kings have carved out nations, promising a new world. Visionaries and philosophers have concocted schemes to guarantee citizens the good life.

But all have floundered and failed. Why did these sincere, well-meaning, dedicated planners fail?

Here lies a paradox of human history, a story few people understand, and a sad commentary on our own searching for the good life.