Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My buddy Matt is visiting from Israel, he’s gonna’ be here for a month. Matt’s Dad dated my Aunt for years so we pretty much grew up together, making us essentially cousins. They broke up and Matt returned to Israel and I hadn’t seen him in years. We reconnected last year when he came to visit his Dad, and it’s the same situation this year.

Hanging out last night at the Red Room on Spadina, he told me of the Kibbutz he lived on in the middle of the dessert. For those who are unfamiliar, a Kibbutz is a commune. There he worked at a steel shop fixing stuff for other people on the Kibbutz. All the money is then given to the Kibbutz and it pays for everything for everyone. His Mom, who works as a midwife, technically makes $700US per delivery, but she’s paid the same each month whether she delivers 10 babies or if she delivers none, in fact she’s paid the same as the person who runs the steel mill her son works at, or the person who tends to the petting zoo. It’s a pretty cool system, no one ever goes hungry, there’s no real jealously, (except over girls who seem to be in short supply on the Kibbutz) and it’s generally a peaceful environment. He says there is such a stark difference between his Mother who is paid nothing but satisfaction in Israel, and his Father who slaves away and is pretty well off but miserable in Toronto.

One of the coolest things he said to me was “We are not a consumer of culture, we are creators of it” He doesn’t rely on TV or the Internet to provide entertainment for him, he goes out and makes it himself. Once he borrowed the Kibbutz’s forklift and started uprooting trees and replanted them and made a forest, and then a hill, and then a bar and a stage and a big bonfire pit and held a concert for the community, playing a flute he made himself in the steel shop. This was just an afternoon project and he was free to do it because everyone is so carefree.

He now lives in Tel Aviv, but a week ago yesterday, he went back to visit before comming to Canada. He sat smoking a joint under the setting dessert sun, lazily strumming a mandolin in the company of good friends and listened to the bomb blasts 30kms away in Gaza. Worlds apart…

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