3 Keys to a real green life
In this essay I share what I mean by "a real green life," the three aspects of our culture that make it difficult and counter-cultural to live a life like this, and how we can turn those three challenges inside out to unpack the solution (the key) from within the problem.
What I mean by "a real green life"...
I chose the name A Real Green Life with a very specific meaning in mind.
I use the word "Real" in the sense that it's focused on what's real and important to you. It's living according to your internal values, as opposed to allowing your life to be externally driven by capitalism and consumerism.
I use the word "Green" in the sense that it's about making choices that are as regenerative as possible, or at least that do no harm. Industrialization and consumerism have conditioned us to live in ways that are extractive and destructive. A Real Green Life recognizes that conditioning and explores ways to undo it.
When you sincerely commit to simply caring for your self and your family with a focus on your truest values, you are indirectly taking care of the Whole. This is what I call living a Real Green Life.
... And what makes living a real green life hard to do
1. Our culture doesn't encourage us to think for ourselves
If the public were to think for themselves and take responsibility for the impact of their choices, 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 "institutionalized" 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 defines us as single, isolated entities who are separate from and superior to the rest of nature.
The science is changing now, but the message is slow to trickle through to the mainstream. And in the meantime our assumptions about being separate and superior also results in the assumption that individuals 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 reclaim and redevelop our personal sovereignty. "Empowered Thinking for Deep Change" is one of the major topics on A Real Green Life.
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.
"Practical Skills for Sustainable Living" is another major topic on A Real Green Life.
Thirdly, we need to reconnect – I explore ideas around this topic in "Reconnecting," which is a sub-category under "Empowered Thinking."