As might be impossible for some to imagine, there are still countless Americans who live without the benefit of indoor plumbing. To be sure, we can measure those among us who are homeless, unhoused or otherwise similarly situated. Efforts are and should be made to prevent the public health problems that originate in densely populated urban areas where the proper disposal of waste is not universal. But some of us sophisticated adults can remember a time when relatives, or perhaps we, still relied upon the services of the humble outhouse to provide comfort. Digging the pit and moving the edifice was a periodic chore, like any other, of life on the farm.
Once facilities were introduced to the house, Granddad continued to make use of the less-modern facility out back. To the kids growing up, it didn’t seem like too big of an issue. It was his preference. So, what? ut eventually the question came, “Why do you endure the cold of winter rather than walk down the hall like the rest of us?” To paraphrase the response, any intelligent animal does their business outside of their nest. Even the proverbial bear does it in the woods and not in his cave. He made a good point. Still, hadn’t we progressed to the point that the additional complication to our homes was worth it for our comfort?
While that business has progressed to include two-ply softness and heated seats, there is something to be said for intentional simplicity. Once we’ve eliminated ignorance, bad luck and mental illness, are we prepared to tolerate someone who values minimal impact over luxury and convenience? Was Granddad too old school, or teaching us something about personal choice and conviction? Is reluctance to change indicative of strong and principled belief or stubborn resistance to innovation?