Maybe it is not the zombie apocalypse. It may not even be a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. War is happening all around the world, yet here we are, living in relative peace albeit lacking control.
A generation with so much information at our fingertips and yet we are without practical experience. There is a disconnect between us and what sustains us. We are fed by invisible hands. We are clothed by deft and far away fingers. Water comes to us through a maze of mechanical wonderment and electricity seems to be a magic act performed so many times we no longer question the conveniences.
A quick jaunt to the grocer in a gas powered steed allows us to be blissfully unaware of seasonally eating let alone familiar with the farmer that grew the food. Is it really even food? The ingredients listed on the side of the packet suggest science.
Without the confines of society’s comforts and constraints, how well would we actually fair?
Our needs vs. wants have become skewed. Food, water, shelter, clothing, love; they do not seem to be enough. We want more. Even worse, we are unable to actually meet our own needs without money exchanging hands.
How many of us could mend our own clothes, let alone sew them from scratch? The novelty of camping gives us a false sense of independence and skill. I always laugh at those that drive to the gym to work out. What is it with girls wearing workout gear all the time? Do they think they will end up running a marathon on the way out of the mall? When did we become so out of touch with living? Can we really buy the illusion health or wealth or happiness?
With shows like the Walking Dead or movies like the Hunger Games, it seems survival skills has become popular to contemplate. Many people jokingly can rattle off their zombie preparedness plan. Even the government realized the fascination with an outbreak could inspire people to acquire a more universal emergency plan.
But even with a stockpile of all the supplies recommended for when disaster strikes, how many people could actually be up to performing adequately in a crisis situation?
With our most recent earthquake, 911 phone lines were flooded with calls from distraught community members with no obvious emergencies to report.
The last time we had a power outage, people were not even able to employ a fourway stop technique at intersections affected by the lack of electricity. There were accidents, and people were not able to prepare food for their families. They were truly at a loss without power. What would happen if we had mass outages for a week, a month or a year? How would people cope? For me, I would be cold as my home uses electricity to heat, I would be sorry when the food spoiled in the fridge and freezer, but over all I would survive. I continued to do crafts by the daylight that came through the window and I ate out of my pantry. I bicycled up town to witness the chaos and even the odd sense of a ghost town as the retail stores shut down unable to function without power. Gas stations could not pump gas, restaurants could not prepare food. Cash registers could not take your money for they all ran on power. The wheels of society abruptly came to a stop.
It is at this point I could pretend that certain skills are needed to become more self reliant, but the truth is it is the way of life that needs to change. You can learn to bake your own bread, which is a great homesteading skill, but unless you grow and grind your own wheat, you will not find complete freedom served up like butter on a fresh slice. You could dream up an off grid oasis but not many of us can afford an acreage, nor can we quit our jobs to attend to all the chores needed to be fully self reliant. So what are we to do?
I believe the best we can do is start right where we are and make a change that allows us to function more autonomously or create a smaller circle by which we meet our needs.
Find a local farm and buy what you need there. In my area I am blessed that with little effort I could acquire, dairy, fruit, veggies, eggs and even meat directly off the farm where it was grown. Even if you cannot produce all your own food, knowing the farmer is a major step towards self sufficiency. Start small. This past summer I got all my fruits and veggies through an CSA, foraging or food rescue. I met the family who grew my food. I knew where there farm was located in my community.
Learn to mend. If we are honest, materials to sew are costly but if you can mend and repair your existing clothes, you will save a ton of money in the long run. Not needing to buy more clothes will keep more out of the landfills and guard you from consumerism. Buy used or better yet barter and trade with friends and neighbors to get what you need for skill, no longer needed items or free.
Go zero-waste. Every utility, every service you reduce or sever ties with is a step towards independence. If you did not have garbage service, how soon before your property would be overwhelmed with refuse and overrun with rodents? If you did not need power from the grid, how much easier would life be in emergencies and how much more affordable would it be to get one less bill. Not everyone can be off grid but we can chose how much power we use. I recently bought a wind up alarm clock, I do not have a tv or DVD player. I do not have electronic gaming machines. I turn off lights more than I have them on. I unplug unused devices.
Cook from scratch. The amount of money spent on eating out, take away and processed food blows my mind (an many people’s budgets). Cooking from scratch allows you to buy real food which means you can also focus on buying local.
There are so many things we need to know; so many skills that could help us reach independence.
What skills do you want to acquire? How will you free yourself from an overbearing society?
People are making change in their own way and it makes a big difference.
Guerilla gardening, catching rainwater, riding a bike to work, meatless mondays, hanging laundry outside, growing tomatoes on your porch, using solar power, unplugging, buying local, going zero waste, shopping used, using natural cleaners, etc… These are rebellious acts. This is activism. It does not have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to be a vegan, living off grid making your own clothes out of flax you grew in your backyard to make a difference. You can live in an apartment, you can rent, you can own a car, you can even eat meat. Look at your life and how the choices you make are affecting you and the world around you. Are you comfortable with your actions? If not, CHANGE. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Start today.