Is Cultural restoration possible? When I say cultural I mean all of the aspects that make up a culture including sociological and economic systems. Things are very dire in our world and sometimes it is hard to stay encourage and empowered. I say YES it is possible! But how?
To set the stage please allow me to speak in negative terms for a moment. Then it will end positive I promise.
My job takes me to many small towns in Missouri. This give me a unique perspective to life in the rural communities. It is an object lesson in one part of American culture. You can clearly see where the old story has failed this generation or two of elderly people, at least in the middle and lower income brackets. The promises that were made to them were for the most part not kept. This has a huge cost for all of us. Them because their lives were often a drudgery of very hard labor in factories and menial blue collar jobs often in toxic environments that have resulted in poor health. A cost to us because we are paying for the expense of poor societal design in insane health costs, rampant corporate greed that manifests itself in the destruction of the environment and the erosion of culture. There are sociological parallels to what has happened to the earth because of Industrial agriculture, clear cutting forrest, exploitive mining operations etc. Just as the ecological function is disturbed by clear cutting the top of a watershed. The cultural costs of a society focus on profit above all else is displaying its fruit with decayed relationships, communities and nations, increasingly poor health caused by Industrial agriculture practices which effects quality of life and quality of relationships and increased financial costs to everyone via increased taxes for things like Medicare, Medicaid and other expensive programs and skyrocketing cost for health insurance. The cycle goes on and on. You can see the results of bad worldview and life philosophies filter down through a society with the result of slavery and oppression. Sometimes literal sometimes psychological or spiritual.
Arguably our educational system has been designed to create workers and consumers not creative people functioning at the peak of their vocational potential. Not to say that this does not happen, it just happens in spite of the system. The result of this is a poverty of thought and culture. There is no way out of the prison of mind except stepping outside of it and seeing the broader world that is available to those who can transcend a degenerative culture to see and believe and act in a way that can bring something more meaningful and beautiful.
Some would say that we need to go back to a simpler time. There is no way back to where we were at in some idillic time in the past. Things have moved too far along for that. There is only the way forward integrating truths and realities from different cultures of the past that had regenerative practices and combining them with current wisdom and knowledge. Once you understand that we are citizens of earth, a global community you can’t go back to the nation state idea of living. A world view divorced from this reality that we are all together on this journey, that we are interdependent that we need to unite against the real common enemies of ecological destruction and parasitic economic practices and cultural practices that are much more prone to war than peace can only end in violence as we have witnessed in that past several centuries. The real issue is illustrated so well by John D Liu in a talk he gave at the Permaculture Voices 2 conference. Check out the whole message on The Permaculture Voices Podcast
“We’ve made a mistake. Ecological function is the basis of wealth but we’ve said that productivity and trade was the basis of wealth but its not true because if you’re doing trade you need infinite growth but you can’t have infinite growth with finite resources, its an impossibility.We valued scarcity above abundance, this is a huge mistake. And the way to correct this is to realize that money is not based on production and consumption of goods and services. Money and wealth is based on Ecological function. And if we do that then all of human effort will go to restoring the natural ecological systems on the planet and thats what we need in order to ensure that we can survive and become sustainable. I call this The Great Work of Our Time. We need new economic models, there are many but I think we need to meditate on them.”
A world where people are governed by a common need and desire to restore ecological function and diversity so that we can all live well is the only ideology that matters. This need transcends all ideologies of religion and politics, in fact they’re both irrelevant if we destroy the earth. These are world values, guiding principles that lead to life for all. If we can get to a place where regenerative practices are the norm in all nations then in fact real religion and politics will also taking place. ” John D Liu
In the face of many complex issues these simple focus on Ecological Function is a building principle. In closing I’d like to suggest an exercise I heard given by Ethan Hughes at The Possibility Alliance:
Make 3 lists
One list of everything you would like to be doing but your not
One list of everything you like that you are doing that you like
One list that are doing that you don’t enjoy doing because it’s not in line with your ethics
Starting the next day either pick something your not doing and would like to be doing and start doing it.
Or pick something that you are doing and don’t enjoy doing and remove it.
Only one, that’s the rule of the homework. Pick only one of these things and live in to it until it feels like its part of your life.
Then go back to the list and incorporate another one and you’ll be on the path to being really joyful and connected.
Only add one or subtract one and wait until you feel like you are really balanced and then do another .
Let me know how it goes. Post your experience in the comments section below.