Becoming a Pioneer….the need to walk away
Many of us know that our world is going wrong from the crazy economics to our reckless attitude to nature and its consequences of climate change and social inequality. But what do we do about it? To create a better world the priority is not the implementation of a new system though that is necessary; it is a refusal to cooperate with the harmful structures that are already in place. The question beckons: how do we do that considering the average lives we lead now. We need to walk away from our old lives and pioneer a new one.
It only takes a small proportion of us to start driving a social movement for change, one that can reform society, economy and the law. The crunch is that enough of us need to walk away, because unless you are rich the current economic system pulls you back in to provide for your basic needs. This inadvertently makes you part of the problem. To change the system you cannot be immersed in the system.
We all have to take responsibility for our livelihoods and the part we play in the system. The large corporations we often blame as the problem can only function by employing ordinary people to work for them. We all have choices to make.
The problem we have been addressing is where do people go when they start getting it and want to change their lives and walk away. Is there a practical path that any person can choose right now? What are the first steps? Where are the open doors? What is the deal?
Are we talking about escaping the ‘rat race‘ and setting up a self sufficient rural idyll, a simple life in the country. No we are not. If you have capital for property some people do this as a life style choice, as an end in itself. We are talking about being part of a collective which is landbased and enables us to have the freedom to engage in radical change. Working together and understanding what we are doing and why we are doing it.
But you say, group projects go wrong, best escape by yourself and interact in networks as individuals. In this way you will always set yourself up as an individual and you will not be able to cooperate on a level needed for real change. In this mode we tend to support the status quo without even realising it. By working with those around us and seeing them as ordinary people like ourselves we can build on our emotional intelligence and maturity that can get us through day to day conflict and disagreement. It is challenging but projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and Sarvodaya village project tell us that the best way of getting to know each other and getting things done is to work on practical projects as well as work on our own mind-made views which influence our attitudes and actions.
It is hard at the moment, our western society on the one hand encourages us to be independent individuals but on the other hand we are emotionally immature and well lodged in our comfort zones. Fearful and frightened of change that we cannot control. But whether we like it or not change is happening because we are changing the climate and this has consequences.
Many books on ecological and political crisis analyse the problems and leave the reader to figure out their next steps. If we compare high consumption living as an addiction how do we break the habit? When we try to get a heroin addict to kick their habit do we just give them a book and say ‘read this and get on with that’. If we did we would have a very low success rate. Real addiction clinics provide a place to go with people to talk to and things to do. There is a bridge from where you are to a different place. This is what we are talking about, there needs to be actual places to go and people to work with so we can change our lives.
We are not offering a dispensation (a path to enlightenment) but we are guided by the wisdom of the Buddha and believe the teachings of anatta, (non self) and that we are all the same and connected are the essential understandings that drives us to act in solving problems bigger than ourselves. By using these social teachings of the Buddha in a similar way to the Sarvodaya village project in Sri Lanka we can work together to change our lives, the country and the world.
We are not talking about landbased living projects or eco-villages as an end in them selves but a bigger movement focused on solving our environmental and economic crisis.