Self-Reliance for Everyone

| 9/1/2010 12:49:06 PM

Matthew Stein“Is it not already too late if one waits until one is thirsty to begin digging a well?”

— Chinese Proverb

When you mention “self-reliance,” it tends to conjure up images of an off-grid homestead on 10 to 20 acres, growing most (if not all) your own food, drinking pure water from your own well, and having a great place to hunker down while weathering the coming storms as the world goes through trying times. However wonderful this image of self-reliance may be, and much as it may be a terrific goal to strive for, for one reason or another it is probably out of reach for many of us.

If you are one of those that has made this vision a reality for themselves and family, that is terrific. However, if your job, finances, family commitments, etc., have thwarted or delayed your dreams for this kind of total self-reliance, you don’t have to wait until you can afford that 20 acre parcel. You can start working where you are now to build and nurture self-reliant living skills that are sure to provide you with more peace of mind and improved health, and will most likely be of great personal benefit during the coming decades of global challenge and change (see The Perfect Storm: Six Trends Converging on Collapse).

There are a number of obviously valuable self-reliant skills and tools one might develop, such as growing a vegetable garden or installing a renewable energy system on your home or business. But there are also many other less obvious ways in which you can develop and nurture your self-reliant skills. A good place to start is by learning how to fix things yourself, rather than simply throw them away. When I was a child in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, pretty much everything we used and consumed in our daily life were still made in America, and almost all of that was made to be repaired, not just thrown away. When an item is manufactured, far greater inputs in the form of energy and raw materials go into making most items than meets the eye, and far more waste is generated in manufacturing and refining these raw materials than just that item sitting in front of you. For example, according to a UN University study, 1.8 tons of raw materials are used to manufacture the average PC, and most of these materials are dumped somewhere as waste. So, when you repair an item rather than throwing it “away,” you are reducing your consumption and ecological footprint on the planet. It often seems hardly worth your time to sew a split seam on an item of clothing, upgrade a computer, or repair an appliance, but fixing something yourself, or spending a few bucks for someone else to fix it, is one more way of Doing the Right Thing.

Another area of self-reliance that most of us can easily incorporate into our daily life, and improve upon, is taking responsibility for our own health and healing. Rather than waiting for our health to degenerate, then running to the doctor for drugs and procedures to fix the problem, we can develop our natural and alternative healing repertoire of tools and techniques while working in parallel on a building a lifestyle based upon healthy whole fresh organic foods, exercise, and cleansing routines (such as fasting) to help insure that we will have the strength, stamina, and balanced health to be self-reliant when we need it. In today’s world of nearly instantaneous jet travel from all corners of the world, combined with the gross overuse of antibiotics among the general population as well as the animals grown in modern factory farms, the risk may be greater than ever for global pandemic due to emerging viruses or antibiotic resistant super bugs. Building a repertoire of alternative healing skills and herbal remedies may very well someday save your life or the life of your loved ones (see When a Superbug Strikes Close to Home, How Can You Deal With It?).

ecogenics research center
9/12/2010 12:58:32 PM

Sustainability is fast becoming the Vogue as uncertain times loom ever near. I remember the first "energy crisis" and how people responded with enthusiasm and proactivity. the government also responded with the formation of many departments and agencies and people organised and responded with the spirit of innovation and inventiveness nowadays I dont see as much response its as if people were like lemmings running into the sea.Its good to see this forum exists I hope to learn much and offer some of our ideas as well Marc Cardoso CEO Ecogenics Research Center for the Study of Alternative Solutions.

Matthew Stein
9/10/2010 7:58:50 PM

And my guess is you are way ahead of the crowd on this one...

Daniel Skidds_1
9/2/2010 8:14:18 AM

Great topic it hits home for me. I made the decision to move to the country now 3 years ago. Knowing that I could not afford a 5 acre parcel for a few years. I started to learn my homesteading skills, like gardening, putting by, canning and freezing items from the garden and reading up on animal husbandry. We started to consume less and curbed our habits and recycling more of what we use; like composting. It may be another 1 or 2 years before I can finally begin homesteading with a larger garden, animals and becoming more self reliant but until then I can earn my stripes and practice my skills. I will be better prepared when that day finally comes.

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