Reader Writes In
I received an interesting email that I’ve got permission to share from a reader. I think it is a well-written and interesting comment worth of a blog post because I think that more then a few readers feel this way:
Dear Survival Acres,
I wanted to write you this email to let you know I am reading every one of your posts lately. They keep me going in face of despair. And I am really grateful that you keep writing. Thank you. Sorry if this feels heavy, but I truly don’t know how to say things in any other way.
Being in a midst of ignorant brain dead zombies makes me often feel lonely. It is impossible for me to talk with most of the people I see every day at work. They just uncritically repeat the lies they are fed by the media. Like you said, they are programmed, every morning they connect on their mobile phone which gives them instruction for the day (In the Asimov short story Franchise, Multivac chooses the president from questioning only one voter per year. What was called the mainframe in SF is now called the cloud). They are unable to sustain a conversation more than a few minutes, after that they need to watch the glowing screen again. At lunch time, as soon as they swallow their food, they connect again: the phone is more interesting than the other human beings around the table! I truly hate this. This phone is not a tool or an extension of their brain (as they believe). Their brain is an extension of the mega-machine. I don’t even believe there is really anybody controlling the technology anymore. Like Jacques Ellul said (and Ted Kaczynski acted) technology has a dynamic of its own.
It makes me angry: we can’t talk about anything anymore (other than SpaceX, the latest screen technology, or the latest tv series) that truly matters, that is real. If we can’t talk about it, even less agree on a shared view of the world, then it means we can’t act together. Anyway, they don’t want to act at all (the most I got out of them is ecosia: search the web and plant a tree, so much BS). Like you said nobody (not nobody, maybe less than 0.001%) wants to do anything about it. Of course, I believe all this ends with brutal collapse (even of the technological system itself).
I am still trying, but at my level it feels so little, so useless. And it is especially hard because I must keep a leg in both worlds: it is still this system and the money I earn by serving it that feeds me. Anyway, one step at a time, even tiny ones… This year I got a small plot on the city gardens, this adds to a tiny portion in my parents garden and my balcony (it is ok if you laugh…) And I am trying to buy some land in the countryside. I want to let a variety of (edible) trees grow there (in the place of plowed and heavily eroded land).
Life is going to get rid of us, because survival of life on earth is more important than our little selves. Life would maybe tolerate us if we were to help and do our part on this spaceship. I believe survival is not about being the strongest, but about finding the best way to serve life, the life that shelters us from the universe. If we were serious about survival we would ask ourselves only one question: what is our place on earth, our role toward the other living beings. And then truly fulfill it.
I wish you best, and hope this kind of message does not annoy you,
PS: by the way, I don’t own any mobile phone (my wife does, though). I hope it stays that way as long as possible (actually I wish I could get rid of my computer and internet connection, but every administrative procedure (like paying taxes) _must_ now be done online in XXXX…)
PPS: What do you think about no-till farming practices (without glyphosate of course, the non-industrial version, the Masanobu Fukuoka or Ruth Stout way)? It seems to me that covering and not working the soil may also be a way of putting carbon back into the ground (even though that was not Fukuoka intention at first)?
I would have been really great had the whole world stopped burning fossil fuels, planted trees and captured carbon in the soil by doing mulch based manual agriculture…
That’s a great email in my opinion. Trying to connect. Sharing the frustration and seeming futility of trying to live in an increasingly insane world. It’s exactly how I feel…
I gave him a reply:
You’re doing what you can – and thinking more, which is a lot more then what other people can lay claim to. They’re stumbling towards disaster, oblivious and uncaring, totally disconnected, not even interested in ‘hearing’ anything that doesn’t tickle their ears. It’s very, very sad and incredibly tragic.
I loved your email. Great thoughts. “Their brain is an extension of the mega-machine”. I’d like to post your email as a blog post with your permission.
That useless feeling goes away, then it comes back, as I’m sure you know. I think people that dive into this topic and understand what is happening cannot avoid the despair, it never really goes away. But I also think we can rally ourselves over and over again, which is what you’ve been doing. We have our good days, and our bad. The echo-chamber of the world noise is difficult to endure, solace is found in walking alone whenever necessary. It’s why I have to close the blog from time to time. I just can’t take it anymore.
You’re not annoying me – this is an encouragement. I’m grateful to know that the words don’t fall on everyone’s deaf ears. Writing is a type of catharsis (for me, and for you I suspect). Got something to say that flies in the face of the propaganda machine. Gotta say it. Or go crazy trying to hold it all in and wonder if it’s YOU that’s got it all wrong. But then get reminded, over and over and over again, that you’re not only right, you’re scaring yourself how right you are because of what it means to be right about a topic as deadly as this. It’s not our way to toot our horns, it’s our way to re-validate the path we’ve taken, nothing more.
No-till is very interesting on a small scale, but I don’t think it’s going to do much for industrialized agriculture. They’re wedded to massive production and industry profits from mechanized methods (and the requirements which equals enormous profits). You can pursue this with great success. We sort of did that here, but the boxes are a replacement for poor soils where my garden is located. We don’t do anything with the soil except add organic composts, water and plant seeds. Grows great.
Can you lease land versus buying? Just wondering if that would wind up being less costly. At our age, I think we will be the lucky ones, having had the chance to live out our lives as we pleased. The collapse events will slowly unfold, all over the planet, and land owners will either benefit or not from climatic changes. Because I have a grandson now (that was not in the plan!) I’m deeply concerned about his future, what he will need, what I can do for him now and so on. I could just “coast along” I suppose, and do nothing at all, but it’s not in my nature or character to sit idly by and watch the world self-destruct.
Anyway, back on to the land issue – how about crop sharing? Collaborate with someone who already has land? Or others that might like the idea of growing some food?
I actually do not think “growing your own food” is a “solution” in the sense that it will fix anything at this time. It will give you a healthy alternative to store-bought food. But it’s definitely not cheaper to grow your own, unless you have no other choice and then you do it because you have to. But the skills learned are absolutely invaluable and that’s what needs to be passed down to the next generation, teach them a love for the land and the “doing”, how to sustain themselves. We eat organic here, but still have to buy a lot of it (short growing season, still have 2 ft of snow surrounding my greenhouse and my garden boxes are still buried under that white stuff). Our season is very short here. Perhaps my opinions would change if we had a better climate and soil here, but the short season means intensive effort for not much return.
But I also know it is an enormous amount of work wherever you live doing it the “old way”, so we do what we can and don’t fret about what we cannot. I want to teach my grandson when he is old enough how to raise his own food. I suspect he’ll needs these skills, as will everyone else. If the climate even allows for it then.
Good on you for not owning a mobile phone! I’m struggling with this decision myself. The trade-off is I could not communicate very well (or at all). More voices are still needed to combat the crazy connedsumption culture (and rabid xenophobia) found here.
One thought on “Reader Writes In”
I empathize with the writer. It is a constant battle against despair. Despair at the news of the accelerating climate catastrophe, environmental collapse and possible extinction of humanity (not to mention advanced life on this planet). I don’t have a cure. Growing vegetables is a rewarding pleasure, pursue it but don’t be to concerned about the losses involved. Gardening/Farming is a time/labor intensive learning experience. Most people will think you a fool but perseverance is a virtue, and a good squash is a great reward!