Philosophy of Living for a Modern Naturalist
Green Living in the Age of Consumerism
Trying to live in Accord with Nature, it is my belief that cutting into our human tendency for consumerism, by using the valuable products of the field and forest we achieve the first step in lowering the impact of humanity on the earth. Through learning, implementing, and adapting a medley of modern and ancient skills, ideas, tools, and materials we believe it is possible for our planet to support our human population without degrading it in any way. But even though it is possible, it is certainly not something that can happen overnight, and it requires a shift in perspective.
Navigating the modern landscape is often difficult because our time and energy are consumed by driving cars, tedious jobs or chores, and overly available entertainment. Many of us feel that living in Accord with Nature is out of the realm of possibility, and wouldn't know where to start even if we made the decision to start. We know that we want to eat healthy, but feel we don't have the time or knowledge to cook a healthy meal. Likewise we have come to distrust food, due to faltering commentaries on organic certification and the industrial agriculture foodstuffs that are so common today. Often when we are inundated by so much information our brain's give up trying to process it all.
When modernisation kicked into overdrive after the second world war, it was prefaced with the then modern idea that all of the tools and appliances coming on-line would give us more free time and an easier life. Instead what has happened was that these various tools and machines have taken jobs from people, and created more hustle and bustle instead of less. Our world today has become frenetic, we are locked into one task after the next merely maintaining our possessions, while our own health and well being takes a back seat. Often we feel that the solution to our predicament is another product.
Is that really a beneficial way to live? What happened to cars and electric heat, saving time going to work and chopping fire wood? They certainly don't cost less than horses, trees, or our own feet. Occasionally these machines did free up time, but the amount of mental energy (gridlock, paper work, etc.) it takes to perform these activities only leads us to become vegetative in our leisure time. So we drive to work when we might have worked within walking distance, and we watch the television when we might have undertaken a physical activity such as chopping wood or playing with our children.
It is our main point here that to live in Accord with Nature we need to take a step back. We need to look at what it is we actually need and want out of life. Why do we exist for the economy, rather than the other way around? Why did so many quality technologies disintegrate into obscurity just because oil became cheap? Why can't we live our lives without being burdened by the choices of others? We need to address these questions if we wish to live in Accord with Nature.
It seems that so many people believe in global warming these days, but it is a rare person who burns less fuel. Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher said, "all wars stem from the comforts of the body." And so in my life I have often asked those around me what they expect that those in power will do? Your morning shower, your commute to work, your electric lights, and your glowing screens, all of these are provided for by abundant and cheap fossil fuels. So I ask again, what do you expect is going to happen when those in power know that we require oil? If we have no way of providing for our own needs, we cannot blame anyone else for wars, they will always be required by the comforts we seek.
I believe that our needs can be met through working in Accord with Nature, but systems take time to develop and if we never start, then we will never free the planet willingly from the burden of humans. We need to make efforts both in legalizing a departure from consumerism, and developing actually ecological systems that can protect the planet, via satiating humans. When humans put their minds to it we may just find they we can actually improve the planet for all species and not just a select few humans fortunate enough to live in abundance.
This is not to say that 'living off the land' is an easy life necessarily, or the only way to get in Accord with Nature. Although there is evidence that hunter gatherer tribes had far shorter work weeks than modern Americans, there were drawbacks to their life and times as well. Yields similar to what hunter gatherers expected is not likely to support the current human population. What we need if we are to survive as a species is a better method of living. One which values human life, animal life, plant life, and the ecosystem as a whole, while adequately providing for the comforts of the body, and putting limits on overconsumption and waste. A population as large as ours needs a horticultural solution to an agrarian-industrial problem. For some this solution is an invention of two men, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, called permaculture. I am inclined to agree: it seems that the field of permaculture is the best method available for regenerating the planet, but the solutions are much deeper in that we must take issue with some very deeply held beliefs.
The three main tenets of permaculture are care of people, care of the earth, and the return of surplus to the earth. What if our society was based on these simple ideas rather than work yourself to the bone, to maybe someday be able to stop working? Lets set the hunter gatherer as the unreachable ideal and strive for something way better. Lets look at our planet as something we love and want to build on, rather than ourselves and family as the only thing worth our effort.
What our planet needs now is people willing to learn, observe, experiment, and work.
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