Self Reliance

How does a person with few skills of the kind needed to live off the grid, and even less life experience of relying on himself to grow his own food, fix his own household equipment, or forge his own belief system; how can such a self possibly be self-reliant in this world?

And yet self-reliance has become as urgently needed in our world as diet is for someone whose arteries are clogged with plaque. Our reliance on the monolith of our surrounding society–in which distorted information, an obscenely unfair distribution of wealth, callous formulation of decisions (such as the abandonment of international agreements)—have ceased to be on behalf of the people most affected. Consequently we feel like cogs in a mechanism that only incidentally operates for our benefit. Our society is controlled by elected officials, a significant portion of who have little or no care for the people they have ceased to represent. A conspiracy of lack of vision, indifference to consequences and low attention span–a profound crisis of knowledge–has rendered our public sphere the underlying virus from which opportunistic illnesses and breakdowns continue to propagate. Unless our relationship to our world returns to one of respect and responsible caring, no future can ever be tolerable, no matter how much we argue over the placement of chairs on the tilting deck.

Each of us is standing at the edge of a throng of lost souls who are tormenting a terrified victim. Most of us feel like spectators who—if interviewed in a quieter setting—would say that we aren’t really part of the mob. But as we stand here, hearing the terrible sounds of pain–or perhaps we can no longer hear them–we tell ourselves that we lack the power to intervene. Yet when the meal wagon rolls in, we step forward. And we are relieved as long as we ourselves are not targets of this prevailing madness.

Isn’t that the situation in which we find ourselves? We recognize that we are dependent on a corrupt system for our food and virtually everything we consume; but we don’t know what we can do about an economic system under the control of forces with no heart. We tell ourselves that we can’t do much but reduce our personal contribution to the frenzied rape of the land and the life it sustains, with the collateral contamination of air and streams by the waste of human activity conducted in careless indifference to consequences. So for our own sanity we stop our ears to the lies told to whitewash our society’s pillage of the land and torture of its gentler inhabitants who stand shivering, unable to walk away from their own filth.

Our time on Earth has reached a tipping point and only grace can save us now.

At this time in the life of our world, when we are self-quarantining and already thinking twice about our automatic tendencies to grab one thing and push another away, it is time to take a step back into the inner landscape from which these gestures launch, like rounds fired by a blindfolded marksman. Since this marksman sees his targets only in his mind’s eye, and not in the open field of being, he doesn’t notice that all his trophies have tarnished overnight.

Perhaps if we sink down into our caring hearts, then the angels will speak to us again. Then our trophies will become flowers rooted in the soil, providing beauty and inspiration for someone else’s tomorrow.

One comment to “Self Reliance”
  1. Beautifully and bravely put, Michael. The resources are definitely found within. And from our heart issues the hearfelt cry that summons those good angels!

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