Allan MacKenzie has lived in Vermont sine 1978. MacKenzie, 60, lives in Rutland, and he is a janitor.
When asked if Rutland was a strong community, MacKenzie said, “It seems to be. There’s a lot of negative things here, but there do seem to be some positive things. There’s a lot of people who are trying to make it that way…who’s gonna win I don’t know. I guess you could say Rutland is kind of like a rope in a tug of war. That’s kind of the way I see it. But there are a lot of people who are working to try and make it that. So you’ve got to give them credit for that.”
“I’ve been here since ’78…I guess that says something. I grew up in the sea coast. That’s kind of crowded. That whole area from Portland down to New York, it’s all one big city. That’s probably one of the things that bothers me about Rutland is I see it turning into what I moved inland to get away from. It’s got a lot of the problems that big cities have without any of the benefits. That’s kind of what I’m seeing.”
MacKenzie has four kids. “Well actually five. I sort of adopted one. Not legally. I sort of picked up an extra one and then she went and married my eldest boy. But I had already made her part of the family…I made her an honorary member of the family and then she went and married into the family. I guess I thought she was kind of compatible with the family and I guess it turned out I was right since she married into it. She was a friend of my mother’s and as my mother died…she was the last person to see my mother alive and I decided…she was going through a rough time in her life so I decided to make her part of our family. She was upset about losing my mother and she recently lost her father so I was like, ‘Ok. Join our family.’
When he was asked if the five year average move rate of the American and high school graduates moving off to college had the effect of ripping communities apart, MacKenzie said, “Not really. I mean it’s not really new. I mean people have been moving out for centuries, really, when you stop and think about it. I mean the only thing that changes is the destination. In the early 1800s it was ‘Go West.’ People tend to move. And it’s probably a biological thing because normally with animals the young leave and go somewhere else where there’s food. It’s kind of a biological thing to get away from your parents and go somewhere else. I don’t see it being unique I guess.
When asked who he saw as leaders in Vermont, MacKenzie said, “I don’t really know. I don’t have an answer for that. And now that you mention it that could actually be a problem I guess. Nobody really stands out. Maybe we could use more noticeable leadership.”
When asked if elementary school students should be taught how to garden, MacKenzie said, “Probably wouldn’t hurt. On the plus side, the stuff that we’re eating, given the amount of preservatives in it you probably don’t need to be mummified like the Egyptians did,” he said laughing.
When asked if he thought human instincts were as complex as animal instincts, MacKenzie said, “That’s a tough question too. I suspect that humans are devolving. Not a real popular opinion but I’m kind of afraid that might be the truth.”
When asked if emotions are instincts selected by nature for survival, MacKenzie said, “Not really. Some are, some aren’t. Psychologists have had this debate going on about nature versus nurture. But the reality is that you’re grown with certain base programing, then you have learned behavior that’s added to that, but ultimately what you have is free will and the choice to do it. And humans are the only species on the planet that’s is self programming. Instead we seem to be trying to be the first species to cause an extinction event on our planet. Which is kind of odd and it doesn’t argue in favor of a very high level of intelligence.” He laughs. “Causing your own extinction event. It’s like, in what reality does that make sense. I mean, the global warming thing. That was kind of obvious back in the 70s if you were paying any attention and knew the science. So we’re going to argue about it for another 40 years until it’s irreversible. Good. Brilliant.”