The Garden and The River

Bird By Bird
Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamont

The writer Anne Lamont wrote in her book on writing, Bird by Bird, “The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity. The other, of course is the river. Metaphors are a great language tool, because they explain the unknown in terms of the familiar.”


This made me think about the reality of the metaphors of the garden and the river in American society.

Bear with me here, as I am trying to apply a metaphor to an idea. Problems are bound to happen.

America is a capitalist country, with all the blessings and problems that come with having a capitalist society.

We are blessed by bounty, and seemed plagued by poverty and deprivation. I saw recently that more millionaires live in the U.S. than any other nation. I also saw recently that 45 million Americans live in poverty.pasted image 0

In this capitalist society we are dealing with the impact of the digital economy. Manufacturing jobs are moving overseas, and next day delivery has caused Main Street to suffer and lay off workers as well.

(Recently General Motors announced that the protectionist tariffs announced by Trump will lead to job cuts. #MAGA?)

Two of the greatest American companies today are Amazon and Facebook. Of course the far other great companies, and Amazon and Facebook have serious problem. Please continue bearing with me. This effort as metaphorical philosophy requires some patience.

The Garden

Amazon is in many ways the metaphorical garden. It offers just about any product instantly delivered to your door. The bounty of Amazon is like a garden full of flowers of all types.


Facebook is like the metaphorical river, or at least the water wheel next to the river of humanity. Facebook sits astride the stream of world consciousness, scooping up the pictures, posts, likes and tirades of everyone, turning it into revenue for itself.

As metaphors go, Amazon and Facebook aren’t ideal. In some ways, however, they do represent the problems of our capitalist, material consumer

Because our materialist lifestyle is problematic, so too are Amazon and Facebook.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is the world’s richest man worth north of 143 billion dollars.s3-news-tmp-10557-jeff_bezos_0--2x1--701

Mark Zuckerberg just passed Warren Buffett to become the world’s third richest person. Together, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have more wealth between them than 50% of all Americans. The richest one percent n the world have more wealth than 50% of the entire population of the world. In case you are wondering that is more wealth than 3.8 billion people, with a combined wealth of  280 trillion dollars

Like them or hate them, Amazon and Facebook are signs of the times. Just as J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller were once infamous for their corporate wealth, so too are Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg today.

Author: historydojo

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher with nearly twenty years of experience teaching high school history. I blog about teaching, history, current events, the law and social justice.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.