How did your great-grandmother provide food for her children? How did your distant relatives from 500 years ago achieve a sense of safety and security? How did your ancestors from 5,000 years ago forge social bonds?
Chances are that all of their lifestyles had more in common with each other than they do with ours today. When we stop and reflect on what life has been like for humans for the last few hundred thousand years, we can really see how dysfunctional our current station appears.
The way we live today, folks – to borrow from Joel Salatin’s vernacular – “just ain’t normal.” Single out any aspect of modern life and you’ll quickly realize just how far away we’ve skewed from rational, commonsense lifestyle choices.
Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – remember that little bit from high school? For our purposes, it suffices to say that this list does a pretty good job elucidating the needs of the average human being. It looks something like this:
- PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS: food, water, shelter, air, sleep, hygiene, sanitation
- SECURITY NEEDS: safety and security of self and loved ones, of resources
- SOCIAL NEEDS: familial bonds, friendship, community, intimacy, connection, groups
- SELF-ESTEEM NEEDS: confidence, responsibility, sense of achievement, respect
- SELF-ACTUALIZING NEEDS: creativity, spirituality, growth, fulfillment
Every single one of the these needs, I would argue, has been corrupted by our modern way of life.
Our physiological needs are provided to us in the form of toxic manufactured goods by globalized corporate oligarchies.
Our need for safety and security is compromised by extreme overcrowding and overpopulation in concrete jungles that cause mass anxiety and paranoia.
Our social needs have been crushed by life-consuming careers and alienating systems of urban and political development that have rendered community cooperation irrelevant.
Our self-esteem is summarily executed through the process of public education and the search for meaningful work that follows.
And thus the crucial and ongoing process of self-actualization – truly the pinnacle of the human experience – is rarely, if ever, acknowledged.
The modern lifestyle looks pretty bleak when viewed through this lens, doesn’t it? Well, it is! So, here’s my point: it doesn’t have to be like this! And the best part is, we can change our world, and we can start right away.
We can provide for our own needs, on our own terms.
We can reject the industrial food distribution network that threatens to collapse our global ecology, and instead eat seasonally from the land which immediately surrounds us.
We can reject the profit- and status-driven mindset that divides us, in favor of an ethic that puts health and wellness first while emphasizing family bonds and community interconnectedness as the pillars of true wealth.
We can reject the polarizing and ultimately distracting political charades of our era and embrace just doing something, anything productive, right now.
But really, that process of self-actualization is what’s key. If we want to live in a way that maximizes our personal growth, fulfillment, creativity, and spirituality, then it’s up to us to organize our lifestyles to that end.
Brooke and I find self-actualization through our connection to the natural world, and we’ve structured our lives in a way that’s consistent with our values, beliefs, and goals. We believe that many of society’s ills are caused by Nature-Deficit Disorder, and we share a moral obligation to help others reconnect with nature.
We aim to better align the rhythms of our lives with the natural world, and we wish to help and encourage you to do the same. It’s an ongoing process, and what we’ve discovered is a snowballing effect – the more we do, the deeper we go, and the faster our pace accelerates.