Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A revolution rant.

If you've been following this rambling, sporadic blog of mine for any length of time - you know that self sustainability (or learning how to be!) and real food are pretty big passions of mine.

You know how I began on this journey. You know that I still have a lot further that I would like to go.

You know that I am not naive to the hardships that some people face when it comes to getting fresh, real food.

You know that I don't expect everyone to do it all. That I don't even do it all.

This is not a new topic, to me or to this blog. But it's still one that gets me going. I've recently been discussing in an online group these very things.

I made the assertion that most families don't need two incomes. I didn't say that was true of all families. I didn't say families don't want to two incomes. I didn't say that they don't think they need two incomes. Just that most families don't need two incomes.

Apparently that offends some people. I've been told that I don't know what it's like to live in poverty. That I am lucky that I am where I am. That people don't have time to do these things because they work 2 and 3 jobs. That my ideas are not realistic.

1) I do know what it's like to live in poverty. I've lived in it before. And while I'm currently living pretty well - I still earn below the poverty line.

2) It may be true that I am lucky I am where I am. I was born white in a middle class neighborhood. Though, I was born to parents who did grow up in poverty and for my first two years I lived with my single mother in an efficiency with no stove. I am lucky that I was afforded opportunities that other people weren't. I could keep my child when I got pregnant at 17 and still finish high school. My father bought my first car for me for 1000 dollars. My parents and my husbands parents are very generous with their time and assistance, so we've had a great support system.

So, have I been 'lucky'? Sure. But I've also worked very hard to get where I am. I struggled to put myself through college, raising a toddler and working a minimum wage job. When we had to cut costs and couldn't pull any more money from our bills - that's when I turned to food and cooking and eventually self sustainability. I had no one to look to. I learned on my own, through the internet, through the library.
It's been implied to me that self education a luxury that some people don't have. Maybe it's more that it's a luxury they don't realize they have.

3) Maybe the reason people don't have the time to do these things is because they are working 2-3 jobs. There is something very, very wrong with our society if you have to work 2-3 jobs and still can't pay your basic bills. And maybe part of what is wrong with our society is working to pay other people for everything that you do and own and eat.

4) I think my ideas are realistic. For myself, I want more. I want probably 75% self sustainability. I know we won't own cows or pigs (at least not for dozens of more years). But as I've outlined in other posts there are simple, easy ways to make changes. You don't have to go for full self sufficiency to make a difference in your life and in your pocket book.

I know I've used words like radical and revolution before - and to an extent that is all true. But why? Why is growing your own food seen as something that people simply can not do? That it's too hard. That it's too radical.

And why sit there and list excuse after excuse on why people simply can not make those changes - when there are already people out there doing it? And I don't just mean 'bored housewives' in middle class suburbs. I mean people like me. People that live in inner cities and work in community gardens or strive towards fresh food initiatives. People who window farm. College students who plant mini gardens outside their apartments, knowing they'll abandon them in early summer.

And why  is it so shocking and so offensive that I suggest those people choose to work more instead of do more? Are there some people who truly have no out - no resources - no other way to make a difference than to work 2 or 3 jobs? Absolutely. But there are just as many (more!) people who work those jobs to support a lifestyle they can't afford. They are either unwilling to give up the conveniences that money affords (whether those conveniences are a second car, a vacation home or simply buying your lettuce at the grocery store) or they are unsure of how to make the changes.

We live in a culture where this knowledge is not passed down from generation to generation anymore. I really believe some people just don't know there is a different way and if they do know maybe they don't know where to start.

So what is so wrong with stating that there are other choices, there are other ways? You may not want to live that way. You may not want to make those sacrifices, but it doesn't mean that that life is not a valid or available choice.

Why is it that going to work for 10 hours a day to earn the money to buy your food is seen as a viable and good life choice, but staying home to grow the food is seen as unrealistic or stupid or naive?

I just really don't understand the hostility towards those ideas. I don't understand the insistence that it can't be done, I don't understand how our culture has become one that has to rely on someone else for everything else - right down to what we eat.



City Sister said...

It seems as though life has been your greatest teacher! Hard work and perseverance have really paid off for your family. Great job.

Danielle said...

I completely agree with you. Those things shouldn't be radical or revolutionary, they should be the norm. And I've always said that most people can live on one income, they just choose not to. I think you're right - we don't pass on knowledge anymore. Not just about food and growing things, but about maternity care, life-skills, all kinds of things.

Valkyrie said...

*high five* Love this blog. I totally agree with you.

Excuses. You hit the nail on the head with that.

People *always* have choices.

Maybe the "luck" we have is really about having the ability to recognize our choices and also to seize opportunity. Sometimes I think a lot of people cannot do either one of those things.

It is also a huge advantage to have a good support system. But it's still not necessary. It's a big help, but not necessary.

Part of the core problem is that--the isolation we live in. The inability to admit that we have choices. But mostly, the inability to recognize the difference between our wants and our needs.

Many of us feel like we NEED things we do not need. I think this is an integral part of the capitalist system--convincing us that we must consume, consume, consume. If we only had the latest this or that, we would be okay!

If I'd been in that online group, I would have had your back. ;-)

Sara said...

Great blog! I'd had your back too. I miss all the broohahah.

I think at the core, people are lazy. Hell, I'm lazy. What I'm saying is they are complacent and accepting of what little niche they have carved out for themselves. The thought of MORE work to be MORE sustainable just makes them shut down. When in actuality, the very work they shun brings unmeasureable peace and happiness to their life. It isn't always about the monetary cost, they miss out on the soul healing working with their hands brings.

I wish I could rant as well as you. I always sound pontifying. Or whatever that word is...Firefox tells me it is spelled wrong. ha! I'm too lazy to find the right word. bwahahahah!

Marianna said...

I admit I don't live sustainably, but BRAVO to you! I agree with you completely. I am very fortunate to be able to live the lifestyle I do which allows me to stay home without much hardship, but when my oldest was born (11 years ago) we were living on about 30k a year. It was not easy, but it was a CHOICE for me to be home. It was then that I learned how to cook, because no matter what anyone says fresh is cheaper than processed!