By David Tulis
I like to tell people I don’t cover the local economy, but local economy. The absence of the direct article suggests I am not interested simply in business news, nationally or in one American city in which I happen (in God’s providence) to reside.
Local economy is an idea, a way of living. It’s not an ideology, but an idea. An ideology is a framework of thinking and action in which you don’t have to do your own analysis and thinking, your own research. You simply follow a premade template that seems to answer all life’s tough questions. Feminism. Marxism. Environmentalism. Militarism. Each heresy controls the world in terms of its own premises, and reshapes the entire world — from literary analysis to marketplace theory — in terms of its religious premise.
Local economy is a way of looking at the world, of repersonalizing the world by understanding it in terms of God’s creation, in the flow of time, in the confines of space and in the framework of God’s totally personal rule over the world. That’s why the usages of personalistic economy and trading (vs. shopping) are helpful in our explorations. The slogan “Love your neighbor — buy local” suggests a direction one’s life might fruitfully take in light of the colossalism of the existing world that we access through media, the Internet and mass brands that dot our city’s thoroughfares. But let’s not get carried away, as ideologues do. Let’s take it only as far as it is helpful and doesn’t seek to replace Christianity and start dictating unreasoning demands against Ford Motor Co. or Home Depot.
A giant world; so why local?
The main ideas of local economy are empty of strength or might. They aren’t ideas that shake the world and draw media attention. They aren’t important. They are counterintuitive to those of us who believe in superhighways, Wal-Marts, McDonald’s and federal congresses. Small is better than big. Local is better than remote. And personal is better than corporate. This perspective is suggestive, helpful to you and me. My work in this field is really among intimates, among a tiny group of people.