Over the last couple of days, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on subjects such as blacksmithing, building your own forge, primitive living, bow construction and stone-age tool making. Obviously, I’m going backwards in time as I dig deeper and deeper into what it means to be truly sustainable.
I find the whole subject of ‘human sustainability’ fascinating for many reasons. In part, because of the huge disparity that exists within civilization and its resulting injustices. But I also am fascinated by the culture that sustainability represents. The ‘can do’, independent and self-sufficient lifestyle of living without extortion.
To me, this offers so much more then our present lifestyle and I’ve been working towards this, bit by bit, but I’m a long ways from being sustainable. But what of the ‘sustainable culture’? Just how different or better would this be then what we have today?
From what I’ve been reading, there is a profound difference, encompassing both physical, emotional, financial and spiritual aspects of the human experience. It is unlike anything most First World humans have ever known, except for those very few who have stepped off the mainstream of life and quite simply, walked backwards though time to find their rightful ‘place’ of existence.
I am admittedly like someone looking ‘in’ and not from ‘without’ the window of this relatively tiny movement, and this distortion obscures my true understanding and awareness of what it’s really like. But what I percieve even with my limited understanding at this point is absolutely fascinating to me. And I think I know why.
I’ve never been bothered by the physical aspects of living. That is to say, the physical difficulties of living, even in the modern world. I enjoy hard, physical work, for example. But I’ve never enjoyed or approved of the conformity required in the modern world. Nor have I enjoyed or approved of the constant, inscessant mental gymnastics required. Or even worse, the compliance demanded of modern civilization’s citizens.
Living in the modern world requires you to give up so much of your true self. You’re not free to be whoever you are, but are molded by the circumstances all around you in which you are quite literally, forced to live. This is the ‘extortion’, in part, that I mentioned above (there’s much more).
Really interesting characters are usually the non-conformists we find in our midst, and some of the most notable (Thoreau for example). Their life experiences, outlook, attitudes and stories are quite a bit different from the rest of us. I’ve often sought these people out, even unconciously, because of their unique experience and outlook.
Obviously, I’m looking for something. Something other then what I’m currently experiencing. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve found so far, even though I’ve managed to answer countless questions in my life. Additional questions always seem to surface, and thus, the journey to a sustainable human culture was quite probably, the obvious ‘destination’ for my search.
There is no evidence, that I have found, that anything other then a hunter / gatherer lifestyle is truly sustainable. Or as one individual on Paleo Planet put it, the gatherer / hunter lifestyle, since hunting was actually a secondary task.
There is also no evidence that mankind has ever been free of conformity, or coercion, or compliance, except when he lived a primitive existence. Modern cultures simply do not permit such free exercise of will, it’s actually “illegal”. Yet illegal it may be, humans have long sought to break free of the chains that bind them in numerous ways.
The desire for a sustainable human culture, my desire, is being driven by all of these things. It’s not just because I want to live ‘sustainably’, it’s also because I don’t want to have ridiculous demands placed upon my life and my existence on this Earth. Sustainable offers something far beyond self-sufficiency, in other words, it offers individual freedom and self-expression that is not found anywhere else. It offers it’s practioners life, one lived beyond the coercion and demands of modern living. I know of nothing else that even comes close to this concept, do you?