Pakistan, Productivity and Why I’d Rather Write Books

by MW Cook

     My wife and kids are off to Pakistan in a week. I’ll be following them a month later. I’m stoked. I tend to get all glossy-eyed when I talk about Pakistan. Kinda like a high-school girl talking about the head of the football team. What can I say? Pakistan is my lover.

     That tends to freak people out a little. Then they ask what I love about it. And I have a really hard time answering them. I mean, the place is pretty rough. It’s hot. Stinky. There’s a few shady characters. Not much chance for the trendy nerd conversations I like having. But I love it anyway.

     My wife is running an informal little charity thingy. Helping out widows and orphans. She calls it i117, go check it out. That’s one of the reasons we’re going this summer. Hunting down folks suffering in extreme poverty and coming alongside them to make life better.

     I get bothered when I think about how much my country suffers. I have friends who are malnourished. Literally. I have family who had to cut their caloric intake when American bio-fuel companies started buying up all the rice and grain that used to be used for food. For four years I lived among a people who simply did not have enough.

     But now I live in Canada. And we have too much. Way too much. So I don’t really want to be productive. Because we’re producing so much that most of what we work 40hrs a week for ends up in a dump before it goes stale. Because we buy new printers instead of refilling toner. Because the average household drill runs for 16 minutes during its entire life. Because everyone on the street owns a lawnmower that they use once a week in the summer. Because we eat so much we’re dying because of it. We’re just producing too many things. We aren’t even consuming them anymore. And it can’t go on, friends. It won’t.

     So I’d rather write books. I’d rather sing songs. I’d rather dance. I’d rather do plays and cook fancy meals and drink tea with strangers and tell funny stories. Because those things don’t take up space and don’t take away from my friends in Pooristan.

     My old protestant work ethic is yelling at me right now. He’s telling me that hard work and productivity is a virtue. I figure he’s wrong, though. Our craze for being productive has made us the economic lords of the earth, yes. But you can’t have lords without serfs. And I think it sucks to have either.

     So I’d rather write a book.