The vilification of the city

This city never allowed itself to decay or degrade. It’s wildly, intensely growing. It’s a loud, bright, stinking mess. It takes strength from its thousands of cultures. And the thousands more that grow anew each day. It isn’t perfect. It lies and cheats. It’s no utopia and it ain’t the mountain by a long shot–but it’s alive. I can’t argue that.
~Spider Jerusalem, “Transmetropolitan”

I’ve lived for several years in the city, the suburbs, and in the middle of BFE. The only one of the three I hated was the suburbs.

Would I like to live in the country again? Hell yes. It was quiet and nice and I heard coyotes and actually saw the damn Milky Way most nights.

But I’m just as happy in the city, for different reasons. I can walk most places, and it’s a lot less drain on space and resources. Face it, living in BFE can be a major pain in the ass. There’s nothing going on socially, you have to drive everywhere, and chances are the closest town is full of people who were born there and will ultimately live and die there, without having experienced anything else. Not exactly this nomad’s cup of tea. I hate suburbs because they have neither the quiet of the country nor the accessibility of the city. They try to be both and fail miserably.

So seeing the country and city distorted like this makes me want to call some bullshit. We can’t all have our couple of acres and a house, unless we want to start making the planet look like a giant fucking suburb.

But there seems to be a tendency among environmentalists, pagans, nature lovers, and others to idolize the country and vilify the city. To say that we’re “not really living” if we’re in the city. I argue that it’s neither that way nor the other. It’s entirely possible to live a meaningful and fulfilling life in either city or country. Hell, I forsee myself, more than likely, remaining in cities when possible. Convenience and social activities still rank pretty damn high on my list.

And cities, at least for the most part here in America, are not the squalid, festering boils of humanity some people like to make them out to be. Did I at one point, feel this way? Yes, but I threw that notion out when I matured a little bit along with the whole “animals are better than hyoomans!” bullshit. But I digress. Cities on the whole tend to be at least as clean as your average county road and occasionally cleaner. And most cities now are pushing for more parks and greenspace as they realize this is what’s going to bring people to live, work, and spend money there.

Unfortunately, the human species in general, and Americans in particular, have a terrible case of black and white morality. Country is good, city is bad. City is good, country is bad. How about “city is good, country is good.” They both have their strengths, both have their weaknesses. The choice to live in one or the other is personal.

See also: Sustainable Urban Pagan Life by Lupa. I think she covered the subject a lot better than I.


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