Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another Point of View on Places for Seniors to Live

In response to my previous post, my brother, John Marshall, of Hurricane, Utah, asked for equal time to present his contrasting point of view. Isn't it funny how senior siblings brought up together can end up with such opposing views? Here is his statement from his yearly calendars:

"In the interest of fairness to those of us that appreciate small town America! Why Hurricane, Utah?

"Several years ago, when I first moved to Hurricane, my sister, a long-time Chicago resident, sent me and EMAIL in which she gently chastised me for hating civilization; she referred to me as a “rural hermit” intent on escaping from society. My response to her, which follows in edited form, explains, at least to me, why I am here. The following was first written in December of 2000 and it remains an essentially accurate description of my feelings about where I live and why I live here. Regrettably, “progress” is beginning to take its toll and the area is expanding recklessly; Hurricane, UT has been “discovered” and is the fastest growing city in Southern Utah; paradise lost?

"Lebensraum in Utah
There are many things that caused me to “escape” and become a “rural hermit” in Hurricane, Utah. Biologists have long known what will happen when you crowd a mammalian population into too small a space. For example, when over-crowded a significant fraction of an arctic lemming* population will run to the sea and drown themselves. However, their noble and selfless approach to maintaining the social order is virtually unknown in mammalian populations higher up the evolutionary ladder. Normally what happens is both violent and chaotic. The human approach, as we are the most intellectual of the mammals, is the most horrible of all. Hitler articulated the crowding problem when he spoke euphemistically of “lebensraum,” or room to live. History has recorded his quest for lebensraum, and it serves as a horrific example of just how far this quest for space can drive an otherwise sane and compassionate people.

"Primarily because of crowding, the major urban areas in America have become virtual battle zones, filled with directed and undirected anger. This contributes to a mentality of violence on a national scale and war on an international scale. To me such environments are not pleasant places to be, so I chose not to be there. In Hurricane, UT, specifically, and in the rural southwest in general, there is very little of the endemic angst so pervasive in the crowded urban centers. Here, you are trusted until you prove that you cannot be trusted; people wonder what they can do for you, not to you. People want to know how they can help you, not how they can use you. There is relatively little crime; there is no place in Hurricane or the surrounding area that I would fear to go at any time of day or night.

"So, while problems with pollution, both human and industrial, and heavy traffic, both human and vehicular, are factors in my dislike of urban areas, the main factor is the general quality of the social order. And, the quality of the social order depends on the quality, integrity and mood of the people with whom you live. For me and my house, I choose Hurricane, UT.

Lemmings are small rodents, usually less than 5 inches long and weighing only 5 or 6 ounces. There are many known species, some living in the United States. However, the collared or arctic lemming of Scandinavia exhibits the behavior described. While the sacrificial lemming migration to the sea seems a noble and selfless solution to overcrowding, the real truth is not so noble. When an arctic lemming population gets too large for the local food supply, they migrate aimlessly, eating everything in their path. As they migrate, they swim rivers and lakes in their relentless quest for food. Eventually, as they live on a peninsula, many of them reach the ocean. They do not realize that swimming to the other side is impossible, nor are they smart enough to return to shore when they discover that.Finally, while the lemming behavior may not be as altruistic as it would at first appear, it is universally true that crowding in mammalian populations leads to irrational, antisocial and destructive behavior. For example, contemplate what happens when vast numbers of your relatives come for a visit for the holidays, and stay too long."

Photo: My brother's home, sweet home (on right). John Marshall photo.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your brother!

Anonymous said...

Well, two thoughts. First, a big population and high density don't necessarily mean angst and fear. Look at the Clare and at the Chicago metropolitan area as a whole. It's not all bad! Second, there are a lot of options between a big city and the rural Southwest. Oh, and a third: Different living situations might suit different stages of life. Let a hundred flowers bloom.
-- Pat (Ann Arbor)