The incremental changes that we have made over the past several years are helping to mitigate some of our collective thirst for oil, reducing some of the negative impact of industrialized agriculture and beginning to reduce long-term need for fossilized energy sources, but much more can be done. With the return of the Sun, many of us use this time to recommit to things that we want to make part of our lives and to cut ties to things that are not helping us along our path. Many of us have found ways to produce more of our own food or to at least buy more of it locally, that has helped greatly, but there are ways to do more in this respect. One of my favorite activities is sprouting. Anyone with access to clean water and a sunny window ledge can produce wonderful sprouts in less than a week, simply by rinsing seeds a few times each day and letting them green up once the sprouts are about triple the length of the seeds used for the process. A friend specializes in growing sunflower sprouts and harvesting the greens from them with scissors, leaving the roots behind. These, he grows in flats and he sells them to local high end restaurants. When I began thinking about issues of energy, food production and ecology, finding a mung bean or alfalfa seed to sprout was not that easy. Now, we have far more options and the awareness of the choices that we all have readily available to us is growing. At this dark time, we need to realize what information has come in to our lives, what insight it has brought with it and how to grow toward that light. It is the utilization of what we have learned that will make us stronger.
I’m sure that I have spoken before about the propensity of the network media to bring us terror, mayhem and bloodshed. Their focus on what is wrong around us, makes them money and keeps people feeling threatened, but it is our responsibility to find the good, study, and reward it. The good news is that there have been millions of people searching for ways to minimize their carbon footprint, millions more seeking to heal themselves without the aid of doctors and millions more willing to commit their lives to home schooling, rather than allowing their children to be inculcated with values and prepared fro a life of following orders given by wealthy overlords rather than thinking for themselves. These tentative first steps toward making life more liveable and more responsive to our surroundings do not come easily and many have struck out on these paths willing to substitute one false prophet for another, but the movement is what has the power to inspire and create hope amongst the hopeless.
I grew up during the times of both the hippies and the beatniks. Somewhere, back in the history of both of these sub-cultures, insightful people realized that what had been passed down through generations to them was wholly inadequate for making lives worth living. Both sought to find a new way, to meet human needs, to make a living and to share what they had come to see as reality, without relying on older generations to decide for them what was of value.
Today, the young people coming up are painfully aware that what they have been given is based on moral bankruptcy, exploitation, fear and the age-old power and control model of behavior. The relationships between men and women, profit and loss, humankind and nature and between individuals and society have been so twisted and misunderstood as to be virtually constant sources of distrust, pain and near-futility. What we have been told bears nearly no relationship to what truly is and we are left flailing amongst false demons and threats that we have been told are real, even though when one digs a little deeper, reality rarely matches what we have been told.
Centuries of denying the Goddess her rightful place as co-creator has led to a heinous lack of nurturing. A man recently told me that no one can trust a creature (his words) that bleeds once a month but does not die. If one thing were to pass from this Earth and all of our lives this New Year, I truly wish that it would be this ridiculous belief system! Change can be such a slow process, but understanding that there is something more valuable on the other side helps immensely.
What we all need is a more accurate picture of the world around us, one that does not allow the underlying causes of grief to go unnoticed while we trot out the same old dog and pony shoe for public consumption. I purposely held back my comments on the recent school shootings because of the complete and utter ignorance that news coverage of that terrible and senseless act represents to those of us who are paying attention. Four thousand children die each and every day because they lack clean water. The heartstrings that get tugged when twenty white children die are many, but the relative impact of neglecting most of the world’s population for the enrichment of those who can afford assault rifles is sickening. The eight billion dollar cost of posting a single armed guard in every school in America, that the NRA (National Rifle Association) proposed would do nothing to stop people with nefarious intent, but that money could be spent wisely to provide enough clean water to save millions of lives. We are left, in the end, with a series of priorities. In the game Scrabble, once you have three of any single letter, you may return additional letters of that type to the bag. No one is expected to play the game with too many “L”s or “M”s. In the land of plenty and many, we often forget to discard useless abundance and it limits our ability to function.
How we see our choices needs to change if we are to make progress toward better lives for more people. A friend told me that having more than one bicycle is wrong, but I asked them if they had more than one pair of shoes. “Yes.”, they answered, “I have boots for snow, different boots for rain and mud, sneakers, dress shoes, walking shoes, running shoes and a pair of sandals for when it is nice outside.” Then they admitted to having slippers for wearing around the house. So, I thought about it for a moment and replied that I had bikes for racing, for trail riding, street riding, a tandem in case I wanted to ride with a friend, even one for getting groceries. I even have one that is best in the snow. If I use them appropriately and have not wasted too much money on them, the specialized functions that they serve seem to be necessary,each in their own situation. Much like my friend’s shoes, there are good reasons to have a large variety of equipment for different situations. I never stand in the garage trying to make up my mind about which bike to ride, the choice is made in advance by the type of ride that I will be taking.
Once we know where we want to go, it is easy to choose the right conveyance. The places you can go with the resources you have been given is only limited by your imagination and the ability we all have to adapt to new situations and new information. If I decide to only use my feet for transportation, my shoes would instantly become more important than my bikes. The choice of a car would be silly, because it would end up as driveway decoration, not a functional tool. In life, we often find ourselves at crossroads and the direction we choose will make all the difference.