For the last year and a half I was living in Sonoma County which about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco and in the heart of the wine country. The area is noted for its gently rolling hills, miles of picturesque vineyards and wonderful climate. In the 70’s it was the place to which a lot of the hippies migrated, driven by the higher prices of living in the city and lured by the opportunity to cultivate some real ‘home grown’ in a congenial climate – both agriculturally and socially.
Those carefree days are long gone, however. Even with the current depression in the market, the cost of living is high. The farmers and early residents of the mid-20th century, plus the migrant workers and their descendants are increasingly marginalized by the wealthy who are fulfilling their dream of having their own little boutique vineyard, the comfortably retired who want to spend their years in an area without extremes, and aging hippies who are still ready to raise the banner and march.
One of the most notable characteristics that each of these groups share is a dedication, or at least an espousal, of a healthy green lifestyle. I have never seen so many bike lanes and people using them as I have here. There is every kind of alternative medical specialty is supported – from acupuncture and colonics to dream analysis and drumming. Self-help and metaphysical groups are everywhere as are vegan restaurants and organic farms.
You get points for joining a yoga or meditation group; extra points for driving a Prius or owning a bike. Attending the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market has taken the place of going to church. Being overweight is equal to moral depravity. De riguer behavior includes bringing your own fabric bags to carry home groceries from the local natural food outlet, as is loudly decrying the consumption of anything with sugar.
This is not to say I disagree with this healthy lifestyle agenda. In fact, before moving to Sonoma County I was in favor of all of the above – leaving a small carbon footprint; buying wholesome food; not wasting paper, etc. But like all agendas it comes with a price, and that is compliance with the majority.
After a year and a half of this political correctness, I want to eat Hershey bars and bacon sandwiches on white bread. I want to cruise through the beautiful countryside in a ’57 Cadillac convertible while I light up an American Spirit.
I know that this is just pure contrariness on my part. As soon as something turns into an ‘ism’, it starts to have members, and before you know it there are rules and penalties for breaking them. A moral superiority and righteousness creeps in that puts my back up.
As Gilbert & Sullivan said (or was it Groucho Marx?), “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” So I am returning to that land of milk and honey, Sacramento, California, where the soup kitchens have regular hours and the poor are visible on the street, where political correctness is a spectator sport and the only thing green is the money.