Saturday, October 6, 2012
On Change and Being Stuck
Watched this amazingly inspiring video a week ago, and since then have been thinking a lot about making changes. Changes in my own life, changes in the greater world around me. The message isn't particularly new for me, but really had an impact, and I urge anyone coming across this page to watch it.
So I'm trying to figure out what I'm really going to do. I keep running into this problem of feeling utterly trapped. I've felt this way ever since I came of age, out of the egocentric world of the child and teenager. I guess around age 18, especially after 9-11. Started getting into politics and bigger issues, trying to understand this system in which we live, and trying to figure out my place within it, and finding very few good options before me.
I know I've talked a lot on here about living the change, saying stuff about opting out of the system as it is. But man, how? How can people operate outside of the system? If you don't play by the rules, you don't get to eat. If you don't work, then you don't get to sleep indoors. They got us by the short and curlies.
One example I know I've thrown out there was gardening. Want to grow a garden? Well, you have to own land, but homesteading is so far from what most people are capable of, it's hard to imagine it happening. I mean, for those who can afford to buy land, often they buy it in town near their job. They have a house, not property. A huge building of outsized proportions, a weight around their neck, often, because we've become accustomed to such foolishness. And to really be free of the system, you can't just grow a token garden out back, a few tomato plants and maybe some lettuce, beans, and cucumbers. You need to plant a sizable amount of land (in terms of an acre or more) and have a host of skills that few people really have anymore: food preservation, crop rotation, what to do about plant disease and pests, and maybe tending livestock, among much else. I'm talking about farming, and farming requires a lot of knowledge.
And that's just for food. What about everything else we need? Clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, etc etc. How to opt out of all that? I mean, they own our lives, whoever "they" is, if there is a "who" besides the inhuman system itself... they own our lives because they own the means of sustaining our lives. I say again: you dont work, you don't eat, you don't sleep indoors, you don't get to go to the doctor, you lose every which way. How can you fight back against such a thing? You can put out your recycling, consume less, you can try to elect better leaders, take your money out of the banks, but in the end, youre going to go to work every day because your stomach demands it, and more importantly, your children's stomachs.
I think often of Grapes of Wrath, which I know is a novel but it's such a vivid image of the Depression, and seems accurate from what I've read. And not just the Depression, but the way the union battles went for decades back then, the brutal fight it was. Brutal not just because Power fights you on it, but because you have to sit there, watch your children cry because they're hungry, while you strike and picket. What a thing to do! Most men would work for the lowered wages, rather than strike and get nothing. The only ray of hope is that, in spite of those horrible stakes, people did it anyways. They fought back, they suffered, but they did what they had to do.
But here we're talking not about just getting more workplace rights, fairer laws and economic practices, but a whole new economic paradigm. We don't have a clear goal, like better wages, the 8 hour workday or the 5 day work week, or an end to child labor. It's hard to even know where we're trying to go.
So I just don't know. I'm constantly inspired by these sorts of videos, books, ideas, but never know how to proceed. The edges of this problem are just out of reach. I can't imagine any way to have a real impact on the sort of paradigm shift I'm referring to, and can imagine even less a mass movement in this direction. I don't want to give into despair, but I feel like I've been stuck for the last 11 years and it just plain sucks.