This phrase has been running through my head a lot lately. I am thinking that most of what is wrong with this great nation of ours is that we are looking for a Maintenance Free Society.
Think about it. Folks buy a car, and take care of it for a while. It is clean, it smells nice, they take it in for regular oil changes and maintenance. After a while, though, that car becomes just something to get them from point a to point b with as little fuss as possible. Pretty soon the oil changes are running a couple thousand miles behind schedule and there are french fries ground into the carpet. The car wash becomes something of the past, rust begins to creep along the edges of the wheel wells, the tires start getting bald and going flat. All for a lack of maintenance. Soon a new car is purchased to replace the one that is no longer as pretty or fancy.
Everything in our lives is like this. Our food comes maintenance free (no effort in growing, raising, or hunting it) and in neat disposable containers. Our clothing, when stained, torn, or no longer fashionable is replaced with new and better things. Good quality, heirloom furniture is a thing of the past, with Craigslist full of ads reading "this no longer fits the decor of our new home, so if you want it come and get it". Dishes have become "seasonal decor". Appliances are swapped out for the newest, shiniest, and fanciest. We have "Starter Homes" instead of homes purchased with the idea that you will live there, raise your children there, and (if you are lucky) die there. Obesity and chronic illness are huge issues in our society because even the maintenance on our bodies is too much to handle. We are stripping the Earth of it's natural resources because the maintenance involved with living sustainably is too inconvenient. Everyone is looking for the upgrade.
Friends have become maintenance free, as well. Everyone knows that everyone else is so busy. Folks meet at work or at a function, and they hit it off. Pretty soon they are meeting for drinks or going somewhere together and developing a fine friendship. Pretty soon, though, things taper off to the occasional phone call or email and both parties move on to find new friends. The excuse is that everyone is too busy to get together...maybe after the holidays, we say. Hmmm.
Even families are now often maintenance free. How many divorces are due to the fact that it is too much work to keep your spouse happy and the marriage alive? How many kids are running around getting in all sorts of trouble because it is too hard to keep track of where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing? How many Grandmas and Grandpas are dying of loneliness at home or in care facilities because their families are too busy to come visit or to call on a regular basis?
I dunno. I think maybe Maintenance Free costs more than it is worth.