J. P. W.
Downfall of bare feet – a different perspective….
Date: Jul 2006
As much as I would like to attribute the disappearance of bare feet in American culture with Reagan and Yuppie materialism, I think a lot of the blame should be placed on the other side of the fence.
The country took a technocratic turn in the late seventies. By technocracy I mean there was a lot more scientists involved not only in government policy but in corporate policy as well. It’s not strictly a bad thing (the scientific ignorance of today’s government is far worse…), but it often went way too far especially to protect people from themselves.
The classic example, as it relates to barefooting, is the one argument I got from the overqualified health food clerk as to why I needed to wear shoes in the store. You’ve heard it before, “You could walk over some bacteria with a cut on your foot and get an infection!”
Sure, I could, but I’m much more likely to get run over in the parking lot by some nut high on wheatgrass. The odds of getting such a infection are somewhere between a lightning strike and a lotto strike. I have never heard of anyone anywhere actually getting such a infection off a grocery store floor. Ever.
There was a rash of this kind of thing in the late seventies. Playgrounds were torn down because the slides were too high, new childproof pill bottles came out that only a three year old could open, and seatbelt laws were passed which I personally resent.
Along with that, came this whole microphobia. By “phobia” I mean irrational fear of microbes! Suddenly touching the ground with naked skin is both disgusting and dangerous. Everybody has got antibacterial cleaners now. All this to fight against something that could almost always be defeated by common sense. Of course, if you go too far sterilizing your environment, anything that does get through is far more likely to wreak serious havoc because your natural defenses will be too low.
We were built for this planet. People easily forget that we were biologically engineered to survive on Earth without clothes or anti-bacterial soap. I spent a few seasons out in the woods, getting dirty, going barefoot (sometimes naked), enduring all sorts of weather, cooking on a fire without a dishwasher, and I had never felt healthier before or since.
I think it is sort of ironic that maybe in the fifties and sixties it was the so called conservatives that looked down on barefooters because they were non conformists and rebels. Since then, we’ve gotten from the other side because it is supposedly unhealthy and dangerous. Now we have to fight both sides and that’s real drag!
Life isn’t childproof
J., the barefoot bluesman