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Monday, October 12, 2009

Ending is Better Than Mending

I love Brave New World--which is part of Sonlight's Core 300 program. I know it's not for everyone. My sister couldn't stand it and my wife hated the ending.

But me?

Totally enjoy it.

One of the government slogans used to train people how to act is the phrase "Ending is better than mending." Get rid of old stuff so you can buy new stuff. This keeps people working and makes the economic system thrive. For this post, it doesn't really matter if this thinking plays out in reality or not. What rankles every one of my recycling/repairing/reusing sensibilities is that, in many cases, this is an economic reality of today.

The Deltas and Gammas of Huxley's world have been replaced by computers and machines. And now it is often cheaper to buy a new computer, or camera, or gizmo than to pay someone to take the time to figure out what went wrong, purchase the piece that needs to be replaced and fix the thing.

In fact, judging by how much I pay for recycling, it's cheaper to produce boxes, bottles and cans from raw materials than to go through the hassle of collecting the finished product from in front of my house.

And that blows my mind.*

But I read an article today that confirms: It's often cheaper to replace than to repair. This has led to exactly what Huxley describes in his work. We are a culture of disposables. And this has profound impacts on the kinds of products we buy, what we expect of them, and how we see new brands. We're always open to the latest and greatest because we don't see much reason to stick with the old and busted.

"Tried and true" is often less important than the "latest and greatest." And with good reason: Very few things last long enough. We don't make 'em like we used to. [Aside: Even those phrases smack of social programing on par with Huxley's government.]

We must consider this reality here at Sonlight. We continue to improve our homeschool materials, but we're not going to completely change. What we have is guaranteed to let you and your family love to learn. Sonlight works, which is why we continue to use great books. But you'll get the most out of Sonlight when you keep reusing those books again and again.

And in that sense, ending is certainly not better than mending!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

*Well, it almost makes sense when I have to fill up my car with gas again!


Craig and Heather said...

I've not yet read Brave New World--but would like to.

Sadly, we have become a society of consumers.

Good books are definitely a worthwhile investment.


John Umland said...

It's quite the prophetic book for our culture.
God is good

Melonie said...

I'll have to read it! My kids are far from that age, but I can always use a good read. Thanks for the recommendation.

It's funny how in this society that is supposedly trying so hard to "go green" we still allow ourselves to be indoctrinated to buy everything and clothing swaps, repairing tools, and used cars (along with eliminating debt) are such "vintage" ideas. Even the recent carmaker stimulus involved buying something NEW......

Working Through said...

Sonlight was perfect years ago when I had to use a card by mail to order. It is still a perfect fit for my family. The recent changes I have seen have been wonderful ones !! I can't wait to get old favorites again !!

Working Through said...

Luke, is there a list of old retired Sonlight books anywhere ?

Luke Holzmann said...

Heather, I really enjoyed Brave New World. But, as I said: Not everyone will enjoy it <smile>.

John, I agree: That book has a ton of great insights. But that's the nature of great literature <smile>.

Melonie, I highly recommend the book... but it's not for everyone. There's material that many people will not enjoy. Just be forewarned! And as for today's society and "going green"... yes, it is ironic <smile>.

Jana, that is so good to hear! May Sonlight continue to meet your family's needs. As for a list of "retired" Sonlight titles... we had something like that on our website for a while, but it was getting cumbersome and problematic, so we took it down. I believe we have a file somewhere... if you email me, I may be able to dig something up for you <smile>.


Unknown said...

It's kind of crazy to think that it is often cheaper to replace than repair. We are very much a disposable society. My parents recently returned from a trip to Europe. One thing I noticed in their pictures is the number of old bits of buildings worked into newer buildings. After WWII much needed to be rebuilt and they used a lot of the rubble that was left to do it. Here, we seem to demolish and rebuild on purpose quite often and use all new materials when we do it.

Luke Holzmann said...

Butter, that is a great observation! Of course, with construction, I saw on Dirty Jobs that often demolition companies will tear down a building for free because they get so much money back from recycling the materials... so there is some hope left <smile>.



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