A return to the primitive song within the soul.
I came of age in the early Sixties and like many of my generation, searched beyond the easy consumer rhetoric for a meaning. Apocalyptic thinking was one way that seemed to offer a rational basis for a life lived in the shadow of mass destruction.
The "self-sufficient" homesteading life was, on one hand, an immediate and practical way to express doubt about the current state of the human endeavor, and on the other, a way to not have to compromise with the system. My generation dreamed of great goals and, perhaps naively, believed that society would slow down quickly of its own accord as an engine running out of fuel.
History, however, is a different guide. Throughout the centuries there have been many predicted catastrophes, and mostly the world has managed to absorb and heal. Rather than a single event, the Roman Empire was a thousand-year process of disintegration and Balkanization.
What we can be sure of are the certain deep needs of being human. For many of us the most satisfying and rewarding way to live is on and from the land. Within the illusion of progress we can find solace in the real act of making our own food, clothing, home and family.
Perhaps the real damage of the last decades of the Twentieth Century is the isolation. The communities that historically developed around agrarian lifestyles, sustained and nurtured the individuals both spiritually and practically. Much work was shared and the community was the safety net for the individuals within.
The industrialization of agriculture has left those communities broken and in disarray. We have become alone in ways inhumane.
Homesteading, in my mind, is a way to return to the primitive song within the soul, to satisfy the deep craving to be able to take care of oneself. Yet, alone, the experience is often monochromatic, because humans are social animals and desire to share both work and play.
After the apocalypse is now. We need to regroup our efforts to find ways beyond computer networking, letter writing, and loneliness. Communities must be formed around whatever disparate lifestyles are created around the human urge for self-sufficiency. It seems to me that today we can build together many communities of people living a wholesome life through all stages from birth to death. We can find ways to provide for those "homesteaders" who no longer find the total process physically possible, and also provide the children with a place to learn and form.
Perhaps this vision is not a, romantic as "The Crash," but it seems to me a wholesome alternative.
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|Title Annotation:||advantages of homesteading|
|Publication:||Countryside & Small Stock Journal|
|Date:||Jul 1, 1995|
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