3 Keys to a real green life
In the previous section, What is a "real green life," I mentioned that three aspects of our culture make it difficult to live a satisfying, meaningful life that will enable our children and grandchildren to thrive.
Lets take a look at these three things, and then we'll see if we can unpack the solution from within the problem...
1. Our culture doesn't encourage us to think for ourselves
If the public were to think for themselves and take responsibility for how their actions impact on the web of life, it would have a terrible impact on the growth economy.
A multitude of influences, from childhood conditioning to sophisticated marketing, all influence our thinking in ways we rarely examine, let alone take control of.
Without most of us even noticing it, we’ve become “institutionalized.”
How? By the hordes of experts and social institutions who wait at our elbows to provide for us, think for us, and rescue us from our mistakes.
This erodes our capacity to think for ourselves and take responsibility for our own lives.
In addition, profit orientated corporations who rely on endlessly expanding consumerism need to influence our thinking towards two very specific outcomes.
The first is to create a sense of lack, a hunger for "more," in our lives.
The second outcome is to direct our focus towards the gadgets, gizmos, and entertainment that they imply will fill the void.
The technology employed to direct our thoughts in this way is extremely sophisticated, and the budgets allocated to it are vast.
Unless we make a conscious effort to screen out unwanted influences and direct our own focus, our minds are no longer our own.
From the moment you first see a TV screen or a billboard, your mental health is under attack."
Steve Biddulph, Raising Boys
2. Our culture doesn't encourage us to provide for ourselves
The second of our 3 challenges is the direct outcome of the "institutionalised" thing I mentioned above: we are conditioned to rely on others to provide for us.
We've lost the practical skills of self-reliance and the skills of community interdependence that sustained us before experts, institutes, corporations, supermarkets and superstores took over providing for our needs.
Too many of us literally no longer know how to live in community or look after ourselves.
3. Our culture doesn't encourage us to connect
Our third challenge is that our connections to any strong internal sense of meaning or purpose, to each other, and to the natural world are weak. Ironically, the more connected we are via social media the more disconnected we tend to be in other, more meaningful ways.
Besides the impact of social media, we also live within a scientific worldview that for the last several hundred years has defined us as single, isolated entities who are separate from and superior to the rest of nature.
The science is changing now, but slowly. And in the meantime, our assumptions about being separate and superior also results in the assumption that individuals, families and businesses can somehow carry on without regard for their impact on each other and on other living things.
This "I am separate from you" ideology is also the reason for the sense of loneliness and isolation that looms as the shadow of our culture's obsession with heroic individualism.
Competition and individualism ... is the religion of our time, justified by a mythology of lone rangers, sole traders, self-starters, self-made men and women, going it alone. For the most social of creatures, who cannot prosper without love, [this is a recipe for misery]."
George Monbiot, "The Age of Loneliness is Killing Us"
Turning the problem into the solution
You can see where I'm going, I'm sure. Turned inside out, these three challenges present us with three powerful keys:
1. Thinking for ourselves
We need to think differently than is typical in our culture. In particular we need to think for ourselves and re-build our personal autonomy.
"Thinking Differently" is one of the major topics on ARealGreenLife.
2. Providing for ourselves
We need to regain the the practical, hands-on skills of self-sufficiency. And we need to build sustainable lifestyles by doing more for ourselves and each other, and by choosing ethical businesses for the things we choose not to do ourselves.
"Sustainable Living" is the second major topic on ARealGreenLife.
Thirdly, we need to reconnect – to re-build our connections in three areas:
- to a meaningful personal moral compass,
- to the natural world, and
- to each other – to the network of family and community that makes sustainable self-sufficiency possible.
At this stage I haven't attempted to address this third key in a single category of writing, since its about the connections between everything and isolating it out seems to negate that.
However, you'll find the idea that "everything is connected," recurring throughout my writing.
This was part of a series of pages about ARealGreenLife. The next page in the series is "The Work that Only You can Do."