The Genius of Self-Reliance
I have found there to be such a deeply rooted relationship between our internal evolution of Self with our association as a living, breathing human being within our natural surroundings. I have been pondering this concept of self-reliance and the attraction to societal conveniences lately, all while meeting and interacting with a number of new friends who have made the valiant jump toward a self-sufficient existence. I recently wrote about Self-Reliance in my last blog 'Self-Reliance in Suburbia'. My musing lately has transformed me into an acute observer of my surroundings from the self-reliant perspective and thus, I have witnessed a number of moments that have been quite enlightening. I have toiled for years over the 'inconvenience of convenience', writing about it in the past here on Token Rock. But until I really began to delve into self-reliance I hadn't really grasped what the universe was suggesting to me.
In his essay, 'Self-Reliance', Ralph Waldo Emerson begins by defining the term 'genius': 'To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius. Every educated man, he writes, eventually realizes that ‘‘envy is ignorance' and that he must be truly himself. God has made each person unique and, by extension, given each person a unique work to do. To trust one's own thoughts and put them into action is, in a very real sense, to hear and act on the voice of God.'
Emerson states that 'people must seek solitude to hear their own thoughts, because society, by its nature, coerces men to conform.' He continues by calling society 'a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.'
What I gain from these words in relationship to my new-found perspectives on self-reliance in the modern world is that for me to see a shift in humanity at large I must be that very change. The hologram of this experience must shift if I do so, myself. This is what leading a movement tends to do. Now, of course I am not starting something that hasn't already begun. Many are moving away from the inconvenient conveniences of the capitalistic corporate regime. But, in astronomical proportions, the population at least here in the United States, is still a Costco hoarding consumer. I was one, too, at one time. Back in the hey day of the market, I too, would spend $500 a pop when visiting the wholesale warehouse grocer. I would fold down the seats and stuff the back of the large SUV I had at the time to the ceiling with gobs of processed, chemically infused, artificial slop-in-a-box. That was back then.
The Costco of Convenience
Recently I visited the grocery warehouse, Costco, with my wife to purchase just a few items and observed the droves of consumers pushing pallet loads of consumables out the door. One-by-one they pushed the behemoth loads toward the door attendant like the Grinch's tiny pup on the snowy cliff, grudgingly pushing the overloaded Christmas sleigh up the hill in the movie The Grinch Stole Christmas. I was disgusted, to be completely honest. So many things crossed my mind; that I, too, had been that blind; that in many parts of the world one stinking box item on one cart could feed an entire family in another part of the world for a week or more; that America has become down-right fat. That statement isn't directing judgment to any particular citizen. It's a startling absolute truth. If the food runs dry because the corporate elitists choose to do so, well, I'm sorry but there is going to be a big wakeup call for a lot of glutinous convenience mongers. As I passed through the paper products isle I noticed a mother and father tending to their six children. This family of eight, by way of the loaded cart containing their inevitable purchases, clearly demonstrated to me their real dependence on the commercialized system to provide. Unless they control a sizable portion of land and master the art of real farming, how else would these parents be able to provide for their large number of offspring? Maybe it is time we as a species start curbing our need for more of everything, including replications of ourselves. Must we really continue to build larger and larger religious congregations? Do each of us really need a bus load of children to be happy? Again, I really don't want to pass judgement but I wonder when we will begin to realize that more and more is not necessarily better. That we must only create and posses what we truly need and can provide for.
Where I live, there is one grocery store within 6 miles. Many, many people rely on this outlet for everything they consume. It doesn't take but one scare and the shelves will be cleared. But, yet, we continue to lean heavily on the system, depending upon it with every morsel of our existence. This is just one of many issues.
It isn't just that we are completely and utterly dependent on the convenience system to provide, it is that due to the dependence, we must take it in the pants with a smile when the prices of real food is not affordable. Instead, we are served pretty-labeled canisters of toxic dump that is surely shortening our life spans. Labels on typical mass market favorites almost certainly detail a laundry list of artificial ingredients that in some cases are proven to have serious health risks if consumed. In fact, I have even heard that certain sprays an soaps are allowed in certified organic farming. So, even certified organic products found on mass market store shelves are not necessarily free from harmful chemicals.
It's Time to Go Local
What is one to do? Know your grower. If that individual is not you, then get to know your provider personally. Do not depend on the corporate fat cat to care about your family's health any longer than the end of this sentence.
We must reconnect with our natural surroundings. Nature has all that we could ever need. We need not depend on the store shelf unless we can completely accept that the provider who fills that box or can has no real personal interest in the health of our families other than to keep us alive well enough to buy more product. Certainly there are some who strive to provide quality food, however, in such a competitive market, and with the call by many citizens for lower prices, quality is surely lost in the light of quantity. I'm not really stating anything that most reading this do not already realize. The question is, are you simply agreeing with me here or actually taking action for the benefit of your own self-reliance and good health?
The sad truth is that most of us really don't want to spend any time working to raise and grow what we consume. We would rather work to make enough money to buy the higher quality products. The problem is that we exist in a system that is masterfully designed to make it difficult to afford the quality products so when we fall short financially we must settle for products that are much less healthy. This, in my opinion, limits us in a number of ways. It keeps us dependent on the system to provide. It keeps us relying on someone we do not know to make choices for us about the quality of what we consume rather than knowing exactly where the food was produced, by whom, and what methods were involved. It keeps us bound to our day-to-day societal employment roles rather than opening the door to connecting with Nature, getting our hands dirty, and becoming self-reliant.
Our Broken System
I recently spent a few days visiting someone in the hospital who came down with a virus. I was dumbfounded to learn about the garbage the hospital was feeding the patient. Of all places on Earth where food should be the absolute pinnacle of nutrition, what the patient was offered was no better than a $2.00 breakfast at Denny's. Reading the side of the syrup container the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. Why a nutritionist was not assigned to visit with the patient to understand their individual needs to promote a full recovery is beyond me. Well, not actually. I understand why. The reason is because our system is so jacked that insurance companies control our health care experience. In fact the doctor himself admitted that they have leeway with their care options only within the guidelines of what the insurance companies allow. So, my wife took it upon herself to bring meals, herbal teas, bee pollen, and other nutritious snacks for the patient. Her actions actually prompted the nurses on the floor to draft a formal request to their superiors to provide better options to the patients. In a small way, her efforts may lead to at least one small triumph. But, I'm not holding my breath.
Many must join together for any real change to take place. I can do my part and my actions will reflect upon the whole to some degree. For instance, if everyone were to stop making their insurance premium payment, clearly something would change about how our care was provided. Going local is key in my opinion. Knowing our provider and paying them directly is the ideal solution. Everything in the capitalistic system is cookie cutter. We aren't cookies and we certainly aren't identical. Localization is key, as I've said. Self-reliance and an investment in our community is our personal responsibility.
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Dirty
Later in his essay, Emerson shares: 'There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. '
We must each take command of our existence. To do so we must venture inward and seek the peace and balance of our inner world with that of the outer world. If we haven't already, we must 'get to know' Nature and open our ears to what she has to share. To sit at our tables putting into our mouths real food that is brimming with powerful, positive energy… this is what heals us. Most of what we need for healing can be found in healthy, locally grown, raw, pure food.
One of the most revealing statements of his essay is this: Emerson writes, 'These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.'
Welcome to Your Genius
In this statement I find the greatness of this man revealed. The words of this master and that of others who followed in his path have been the cornerstone of my understanding of my world. For humanity to find any alignment with Nature, we must respect her. We must realize we are her and that she, too, is God. Any dismissal of this reality is counter intuitive to not just the quality of our existence, but our ultimate survival. We are the creators and being so, we must take command of our own existence with complete clarity and accountability for our actions against ourselves. Destroy Nature and we destroy ourselves. Destroy ourselves and we destroy Nature. Exist we must living true to ourselves. This is why I believe Corporatism will fail and localization with advanced technologies will prevail in the new age. Communities enrich our human existence and give us good reason to live with honor, contribute to a collective, and thus, share our love. We can be self-reliant yet support one-another for the greater good of our friends, families, and neighbors. This is the true interpretation, to me, of the saying Think globally, act locally. Be the change we wish to see in the world and our true genius will be revealed.