John Lennon wondered if we could imagine not having possessions, existing simply as a brotherhood of humankind. This isn't a hope for a utopian future. Rather, it’s been done before. It’s in our history; the fabric of our genetic make-up.
Life as it was.
Early humans were hunters and gatherers. One can suppose that this lifestyle consisted of self sufficiency and oneness with nature. Theory has it that individual tribes were communities in which the needs of all members were attended to. When the hunters and gatherers returned with edibles, the tribe shared. There was no one percent and no ninety-nine percent. Everything was for the tribe, the one hundred percent.
What we gather from knowledge of American Indian, African tribes, and other primitive cultures is that our ancestors had a physical and spiritual relationship with the earth. A successful hunt resulted in celebratory rituals. Art and music were born of this harmony between man and nature. These people took from the earth what was needed and returned what what was not, making a cycle of events that was infinitely sustainable.
And then came the industrial age.
Industrialization changed everything. Industries became a driving force, resulting in urbanization, specialization, militarization, and accumulation of wealth for the individual. The earth became a source of raw materials to feed industry. Great tracts of land are laid waste in the process.
And now the resources are becoming more and more scarce. Although we may not immediately realize it, this is showing up in the headlines in today's news stories. Oil wells dug deep in the oceans, tar sands being mined, natural gas extraction by fracking, entire mountains removed to find coal. The problems resulting from these are reported; oil spills, ground water contamination, local reports of cancers, loss of landscape, loss of useable land, earthquakes. Not to mention climate change.
And here we are.
Our homesteading lifestyle, and that of a growing number of kindred spirits, is our small effort in helping to reverse a disastrous trend toward oblivion. We are doing what we can, like not accumulating things we don’t need, saving energy, using local sources such as obtaining eggs, meat, and produce from local farms. More about this in an earlier post: click here. We share vegetables from our garden with friends and co-workers, make an effort to be involved with the local community, and are involved with a local land trust in their efforts to preserve natural habitat.
When the age of industrialization wears itself out, a simpler, more natural kind of lifestyle will be called for. We feel that we are going in this direction, taking a step back to our origins that actually feels like a step forward. We are closer to the natural give and take of nature; it’s a simpler lifestyle and seems far away from that of accumulating and possessing things.
There are things that each and every one of us can do.
We can grow our own vegetables in back yards, pots on porches, or in community gardens, take a re-usable shopping bag to the market, tote a metal water bottle, use local recycling facilities, and so much more. And, as we redefine our own lives, we can remember to be involved in meaningful ways in our local communities. We are on this planet together. And yes, John Lennon, we can IMAGINE the world as a better place. And we can do more than imagine, we can live simply and sustainably now. -G.H., edited by jmm