Wendy and/or Mikey one up’ed me, here’s a wonderful post about what might be the next renaissance, I think so too! What an interesting Friday this turned out to be…
In 2000 when I quit my job and reoriented myself away from money and towards the gathering of skills: welding, sewing, building, growing food, many of my friends thought I was nuts. I did not make these changes with a doomy perspective. The epiphany that inspired me was one of a better world that followed a great collapse. So here we are. Some of my friends no longer think I’m nuts. The nearing end of oil and the collapse of the monetary system have set rapid change in motion. Oil had enabled us to fraction ourselves off from the natural world and build an artificial one on top of it, a poor and unsustainable mimic. Yet the natural world we started off with actually perpetuates life, it is life, needs no caretakers and naturally provides. We replaced it with a dependent machine. Without oil the machine grinds to a halt and leaves us where we started, with the only task we’ve ever been given, to live on earth. Our monetary system enabled greed to be the road to wealth. Wealth was not measured by generosity, creativity or love. When I look at what’s dying I see things that never had life in the first place. The lifelessness of our way of living is just becoming more evident. But remember we are life, and life has always existed. And so I feel no reminiscence towards what’s passing away now.
So I made my choice a few years ago. I left NYC for Truth or Consequences, NM, a tiny desert town that was never fully dependent on the national economy. Folks here have skills: welding, sewing, woodworking, canning, growing etc. The domestic economy is vibrant, in fact barter is more respected than the dollar which says so little of one’s character. When a developer came here with big plans to “help us” I realized that he could not see that poverty is being redefined. While one in four American homes are empty, here in T or C we have a nearly full occupancy. He sees trailers and mobiles, “poor folks!” I see balance, living within one’s means. This is wealth! This is a place that skirted through the great depression of the 1920’s and 30’s. Here locals grew food and stocked the supermarket for those who could not grow. That supermarket is still here.
In Truth or Consequences one must bring their work or create it here. You could say that it’s a perfect place for folks who attend Burning Man. Like the desert utopian experiment T or C is pioneering, it asks you what your made of and what your skills are. You can still buy a home here for $50k, taxes average at a couple hundred bucks a year. What’s here? Whatever you bring here. Like Burning Man it asks you to manifest and share what matters most to you. This place highlights my own belief that in this time the maker is the revolutionary.
We’ll all find our place soon enough. As we slide deeper into what’s being now called the ‘greater depression’ I suggest we consider this collapse is also the renaissance in disguise. If your tempted to savor what was: money, consumerism and greed, consider how little life it contained. Mystics over the ages have told us that we fell from paradise, from the garden. Religious texts speak of man’s fall into idolatry. These concepts need not be filed under religious thinking. When we built a world on top of one that was given to us and we thanked ourselves for it we parted ways with the natural world and we made gods of ourselves for the doing of it. What do we have to gain from this collapse? Only paradise and the rediscovery of our humanity. And perhaps wealth will finally move to the hands of those most capable of holding it, those who know how to live in the real world a world that teaches us through our ability to live in it that the health of the individual is dependent on the health of the whole.