Like taking out the trash, this time of year probably seems to come around more often than many would like. There has been plenty of talk on the air waves about how short a time separates the resolutions and their being discarded. I guess someone’s interest would be served if we all just muddled along, changing nothing for the better. I’m sure that business as usual helps to fill many pockets and purses, but mine are as empty as ever, but my lifestyle keeps improving and as I practice the art of the give-away more and more often, I seem to be enriching other people’s lives as well as my own. This plea on New Year’s Eve is for everyone to try making resolutions that will improve everyone’s lives, not just your own.
The old ways of thinking nearly worshiped the idea of survival of the fittest, the “fact” that humans were greedy, aggressive and brutish, and that competition, rather than cooperation, was a valid human activity. Scientific research has begun to uncover the deeper truth that humans are inherently cooperative, compassionate and loving beings. The easiest way to transform them into brutes is to deny them basic needs during their developmental stages. Research is also validating my position that survival of the luckiest is closer to the truth. Even the fittest among us cannot procreate if a bullet takes them in the street, or on foreign soil. If your town is wiped off the map because of flooding, tornado, or some other natural disaster, being fit might help slightly, but dumb luck will ultimately negate the value of your fitness.
I’m not trying to stop people from making the resolution, I will get fit in the new year, or I will exercise at least three times each week. I’m just encouraging them to look more closely at how their resolutions can be used to benefit everyone. Those who have successfully lost weight often remark that they have more energy, stamina and clarity of thought. They become liberated from the mundane thoughts of dis-ease and the daily drudgery of inactivity that,for them was like a trap. Perhaps if we made resolutions that were results based rather than nebulous, it would help. I would like to walk in the woods with my children at least once each month. I would love to spend at least one hour each week doing nothing, or I will eat three square meals each day and two healthy snacks at a table with my loved ones. We would know if we were fudging, or about to give up. Resolutions often get us on track, but without conscious measurable criteria, they can fall apart nearly as quickly as they are resolved.
What I am envisioning is a cadre of folks around the globe deciding to take back their freedom of choice. I don’t mean the sort of fictional choosing between Mc Donalds or Burger King, but the choice I made recently to eat a burger of my own making and without concern for the amount of time it took. What a burger that turned out to be! First, my wife and I selected a cut of meat that was well-marbled and hand trimmed at our local grocery. We brought that sucker home and seared off the six outer sides, making sure it was free of contamination. Then, we took it to the food processor and made our own ground beef. The burgers were then hand shaped, fried and enjoyed with our own lettuce and tomato. Even with all the little extras that we were putting in, the cost of the burger was not that much more than a fast food burger. The time we spent, the greatly improved flavor and the enjoyment we derived from creating this amazing meal convinced us to stay away from commercial burgers at any price. The unlucky cow in our scenario was probably from around here rather than Brazil, or halfway across our country. The “unlucky” lettuce and tomato were from our yard. The bread that we used for the bun came from our own oven. There is little comparison between the two types of burger.
This exemplifies the quality of resolutions that I would like to see made this New Year. Trying to do something that we perceive as difficult, like losing weight almost certainly will fail. It focuses too narrowly on one person. The cascading benefits that come from the sorts of resolutions I advocate are sure to reward and enrich our lives from day one, inspiring us to continue down the sometimes difficult road, and transform those around us as well as ourselves.
The irony in the word Permaculture is that it may seem stable and lasting, but the only stable thing in nature is change, so we need to change with it to survive and thrive. Mastering the art of change is the last best hope that we have if our species is to survive. Making peace with one another, appreciating our various unique skills and insights can lead us out of the economic turmoil that has come about because of greed and competition. As the new Year unfolds, let it do so with our active involvement. The time for sitting back and accepting old way thinking has passed.
I frequently make reference to the Guiana Tragedy when I tell my children, “If they ever start mixing Kool-aid in five gallon buckets, don’t drink any!” There are many who are willing to perish, rather than admit that they made a mistake. Many will go to their graves clinging to the lies and deception of an earlier age. To have a chance at life, it is time to dispense with the ways of old and step into the light of a new awareness. Reach out to one another, affirm them and make their goals your own. Working together is always more powerful than slaving away in isolation. Harmony beats out discord every time and cooperation can transform our world.