Honestly, I get asked this a lot by people, not necessarily that specific question, but people are always curious as to how I developed the avid interests I developed. For example, I am very interested in crocheting, knitting, quilting, sewing, canning, herbal remedies, learning about caring for small livestock, gardening, to name just a few. Some of these interests I suppose seem atypical for someone my age, but I love the feeling of being able to make things myself, or being able to fix something that is only a little broken. However it goes past that, to a whole philosophy about life. I tried my best to put it into words, I feel like I had a hard time saying exactly what I wanted to, and sometimes I strayed from my topic a little, but here it goes, my revelation the other night. Caution: This is going to be long, and possibly vague at times...
I realized today, that the planet is going to be just fine, despite what we're doing to it. We may melt the ice caps, tear more holes in the ozone, and pollute our rivers, lands, and air. The planet however, is going to be just fine, it's been here for billions of years, and it will be here for billions more, the only thing that's going to destroy this planet is when the sun finally collapses in on itself and sucks the planets of our solar system into it. There is always going to be life on earth, bacteria, insects, animals, but not in the way we see it now. If things keep going the way they are going humanity is doomed. We don't need to save the planet, we need to save ourselves, we need to find value in human life past what we can produce and consume, and start seeing a bigger picture. We need to work together to reduce what we use, we need to alter our lifestyle to be more in tune with the earth's cycles, and we need to see the planet as something we need to care for, not something that is there for us to exploit. Until we find a value in people past what business measures we're going to continue to see high rates of suicide, addiction, homicide, depression, anxiety, violence in the workplace, divorce, and all of the other ailments that are rampant in Western culture.
Our culture breeds disappointment and a feeling of helplessness, feelings of unrest and dissatisfaction. Convince people they are lacking something and they will keep striving to fill that hole, we don't want complete and content people, we want hungry people who will keep wanting more to fill that void. Find everyone an opiate, keep them from thinking too hard about their lot, but also keep them from being too happy. People that are really unhappy question things around them, so we just need to keep them distracted with hobbies, religion, social groups, activities, movies, music, and all the other wonderful things pop culture brings us. So keep people just happy enough, and keep that feeling of unrest so they are constantly striving to figure out what they need, and if this breaks up a few families, then it's an acceptable casualty. But, this actually helps big business also.
I feel that the disappearance of the nuclear family was no mistake, just as the disappearance of extended families living together was no mistake. They both increase the need for resources, more housing, furnishings, need for utilities. Think about it, how many resources does three generations living together need to consume compared to just parents and kids, and then to take it one step further, how many more resources do those parents and kids need now that the parents live separately? Think about how much more those kids need, essentially two sets of clothing, more toys and room furnishings. It has even become a joke, what do kids in movies say when parents announce they are getting divorced? "YAY! Two Christmases!" A single person on his/her own needs just as many "things" in their apartment (or house) as a small family does, unless they are renting a room. So two people being single and living on their own, (which is becoming an increasing trend in our culture) use more resources and spend more money than two people living together.
The more we break groups apart, force people into smaller living spaces, scatter families, move jobs away from where people live, encourage people to be uncompromising when it comes to what they want, are all the better for big business. The less you trust your neighbors, the more locks, weapons, security equipment, the further you need to travel to get to the people you trust, the better for big business. I know at this point this sounds more like a conspiracy theory than anything, and you're probably trying to figure out what my point is, but trust me, there is a truth here, and you feel it.
My point is this, we need to start forming communities, building relationships with the people around us, or moving closer to the ones we love and trust. We need to start pooling resources, helping each other out, producing things for ourselves and not just consuming. Daniel Quinn described it as a New Tribal Revolution, of people working together to give each other security and support. Picture this; within a block of you there is nothing but the people you love and trust, friends and family, a grocery store and garden that together give you all the things you need and your job. How much will you spend on childcare, how much driving will you do in a week, how far will you need to travel for social events? This sounds very utopian, and perhaps it is, but there is something to be said for the tribal structure, of having all those supports so readily available.
All of this culminates into my vision for my life, a homestead and possibly a family business. Where we focus not on making a ton of money, but on making sure that we all have enough, so that we all are provided for and we're focused on the health and wellness of everyone involved.
Simplistic, and in no way grandiose, I just want contentment from my life, security. I don't need new cars, big TVs, several sets of fine china, I just want to know that my family, my friends, and myself will be cared for. Which, is no easy feat, and is going to take a tremendous amount of work, but, I feel it can be done, and maybe if not completely accomplished in my lifetime, I hope to start people thinking and be like the pebble dropped into a still pond.
All of this, I will admit makes me laugh, it is idealistic, but it reminds me so much of my childhood. When I was in high school, my group of friends and I would talk about growing up together buying a chunk of land and building a group of houses. We talked about having a communal kitchen so we could all eat meal together, and would all be able to hang out and be there for each other. It's funny to me how my vision in life has essentially come right back to that. Just shows you that the ideas of children are worth exploring, because sometimes they are seeing things with astounding clarity.