During the past year or so I have frequently wondered why we do things the hard way. Surely it is a lot easier to get a 9-5 job, drive a nice car, have a nice house, buy all our food and just live a “normal” life? Okay, so that would most likely mean mortgage, car loan and credit cards, but everyone else does it, why not us? It is an attractive proposition for someone struggling to make ends meet whilst living the Permaculture Dream. I totally understand why we warn our students about “Permaculture Divorce”, and I am sure a great number of people have decided to pull the pin on this grassroots living thing after doing it for a few years.
When I grew up my parents wanted me to have everything that they did not. Having lived through World War II, they wanted my belly to always be full and they gave me as much as they could (which is of course greatly appreciated and understood!) Over the past 30-40 years I have seen materialism escalate to the social disease it is now. The problem now is that we as parents can no longer offer our children a better future than we had, unless things change drastically. Kids are now said to not be able to live longer (in years) than their parents anymore. The world is sicker, more polluted and resources are running out. What future is there for our children?
It is said that each person in the Western World has on average 100 – 150 slaves working for them (in the form of fossil fuel). And that is beside the low paid workers that make all our “stuff”, who may as well be slaves for the returns they get for their labour. And here we are in Western Society, feeling so entitled, and so comfortable that whenever we flick a switch, something will turn on or off for us. Basically we are all slave drivers, and the more stuff we have, use and consume, the more slaves work for us. Even just buying food and not knowing where it comes from is an act of slavery, whether it be directly through low paid workers or indirectly through fossil fuel use.
So what does all this have to do with us doing it the “hard way”? Well, it is not easy liberating most of your slaves and making your own gas to cook on, gathering and chopping wood for rocket stoves, wood stoves and hot water boosters (not just flicking a switch). It is not easy looking after animals and building soil without having external inputs. It is not easy growing food on your own property, seed saving and ensuring there is succession. It is hard to build your own place, fighting with wet weather whilst the walls are not finished, and lugging buckets of hot water over for dishes. And it is definitely not easy making money whilst still being true to your beliefs and being able to cover any bills that come up (unfortunately in this modern world there is always something that requires money).
So why do it? Why do we live the hard way, shovelling shit day in day out, putting up with animals dying despite looking after them well, losing crops due to erratic weather, living in an unfinished house and a multitude of other issues? Besides the amazing food we get to eat, we do it because we believe.
We believe in being able to make a change. We believe in leading by example. We believe that simple living and Permaculture are the answers to most of the world’s problems. We believe that if you want sustainability you have to start with yourself. And we believe that we can inspire others by doing what we do. It is tough to keep believing and even tougher to stay true to that belief. But we are giving it our best shot and will continue to do so in the hope that one day the world will reach tipping point in its consciousness and most people will believe. That will be the day that we can take comfort in knowing that the world will be a better place for our children again.
©2016 Zaia; diyfoodandhealth.com, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading, Zaia Kendall, why we do things the hard way