I feel like humanity is on the cusp of a great revolutionary change.
If you look back through history you can see that our evolutionary track has sped up with the advent of the industrial revolution.
Humanity realized that machines could do most of our work for us. Consequently, artisans who used their hard-won skills to make a living, slowly became obsolete as their mechanized counter parts produced product faster and cheaper. Whole industries died out and the skills with them. The loss of these skills was the cost of change. As time has progressed, technology has become more advanced and 250-ish years later, almost every human act has some sort of technological aspect to it.
Now that every facet of our lives has been automated, driven by the demand of materialistic consumerism, capitalistic industry has flooded our world with a sea of STUFF.
Most people don’t know how to make what they need so they buy it. When it breaks, instead of fixing it, they throw it out and buy a new one. Most people don’t know how to grow or raise food for their families, so they buy food from the grocery store, and then because of the excess most of our first world lives by, end up throwing half of the food out.
Most of the stuff we buy comes from third world or developing nations that were built on the backs of virtual slave labour. The food we consume comes from an agricultural model where the produce and livestock we buy has been produced under inhumane conditions (animals caged, pumped full of hormones – never seeing the light of day), crops sprayed with chemicals killing bees, and produce pickers who are often taken advantage of).
This model is not only unconscionable, it is unsustainable.
The first world’s collective mentality has become: buy the most for the cheapest, no matter the human cost.
The mentality of “Why make when you can buy” has resulted in the collective dumbing down of our society. We have lost the basic survivalist instincts that were the hallmarks of our ancestors and the only reason we are in existence today.
Life skills, such as cooking, gardening, building, sewing, homesteading, medicinal herbology, etc. have become null in the past few generations. We rely on technology over our own human knowledge, abilities, creativity and resiliency.
Don’t worry, I’m not anti-technology (that would only slightly count as hypocrisy, considering the medium I am using to say this).
The technological advances we see today, especially in the field of medicine have prevented death on a mass scale due to immunizations, it has cured a multitude of diseases, has decreased infant and maternal mortality rates and has given us a significantly longer life.
In fact, if my husband who has type 1 Diabetes were born 120 years ago, he would not have lived to see 30. He would have been institutionalized and would have suffered a long and painful death. If I had been born 100 years ago, I would have succumbed to chronic strep throat, which would have led to rheumatic fever and death, but if that hadn’t gotten me the intestinal blockage I suffered at 31 would have.
Sobering thoughts and thankful reflections for being born in the age of major medical advances.
I also applaud daily the inventor of the dishwasher and the washer and dryer. Honestly, I wouldn’t give up those handy technology boxes for anything. The time it saves me means I can put my energy into my passions.
There is also globalization to consider. The advent of the internet has widened our humanistic mentality in which we realize that even though there are billions of us and we are disconnected by place, languages and dogmas; that we are ultimately connected by the knowledge that humanity now has a common tongue and its name is Technology.
Through social media, we can instantly connect, share and learn with and from billions of people, and my hope is this ‘global education’ will be conducive to creating a more inclusive and tolerant world.
I guess it goes without saying that I’m not against the industrial revolution either, as it created the middle class, which I was essentialy born into. The advent of the machine was and is welcomed. It saved back breaking labor, created jobs, and fulfilled a need at the time. I merely want first world, industrialized nations to collectively look back and see where policy went wrong. (That’s not to much to ask is it?)
Somewhere along the way, I would be willing to say, sometime in the last 100 years, things took a turn from quickly and efficiently providing for a desperate human need, to producing excess, just for the sake of producing excess.
The problem isn’t the advancement of technology, but our attitudes behind it and how those attitudes affect humanity on larger scale.
Sadly, today, we are seeing the effects of this rampant materialism and unfettered capitalism. Not only do we see the tragic human and animal rights issues, we are seeing that the planet we have been using to produce the excess, is now literally burning up because the first world collectively fears the immediacy of the perceived “economic doomsday” of switching from unrenewable resources to renewable resources, instead of fearing the long-term repercussions of a scorched wasteland of a planet.
You may think that I’m sounding all post-apocalyptic, but think for a moment what our world will look like in 3 generations if nothing is done to curb global warming (which is internationally proven science, backed by undeniable evidence): coast lines will erode and most of the southern half of the hemisphere will undergo desertification. There will be massive immigration and wars fought over limited resources, to name just a few of scientist’s predictions. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty Mad Max to me.
If we are to save ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, something has to change on a collective human scale.
So I look around me, searching for the answer and I believe that some of us have already stumbled upon it.
Cautiously optimistic, I look at the way some people are living their lives and I see what could be an answer, or a least, part of the saving equation. Small groups of individuals and communities are beginning to reject materialism. They are rejecting “fast crap” in favour of buying locally produced food and items wherever possible. They are fixing what is broken. They personally grow or raise as much food as possible and use farmer’s markets and local produce providers to source the rest when available. They are exploring personal options for clean energy for their home and transportation. They are learning to build and create a sustainable and ethical life.
They are learning to be makers and not takers.
We need a revolution.
- We need to buy less and try to understand that everything we purchase comes from something and somewhere.
- We need to understand the ethical and environmental implications of how these items are produced and eventually how they will be discarded.
- We need to learn how to grow healthy food so we can reconnect with what sustains us.
- We need to stop filling our landfills.
- We need to recycle.
- We need to buy secondhand.
- We need to buy local.
- We need to learn how to become self-sustainable.
- We need to drive less.
- We need to explore green energy for our homes and transportation.
- We need to constantly connect with our communities, because cultural change at a grass roots level, means networking.
- We need to constantly renew our education and mindset so that we don’t repeat history’s mistakes.
- We need to start using our brains, our hands and our creativity in TANDEM with technology to live a sustainable and ethical life.
This is CONSCIOUS LIVING.
This isn’t a de-evolution, back to a pre-technology era, this is the evolution where humanity stops living stagnantly, slowly drowning in the swamp of excess.
It’s not going to be easy, and I know I have and will fail. I fail on a daily basis. I, more than I would like to admit, choose convenience over consciousness – every day. I’m going to be honest. That constant failure scares me, and sometimes it scares me straight down Apathy Lane. But you know what scares me more? Looking back on my life and regretting that I didn’t try.
Another huge fear I have is that even if I were to be 100% environmentally and ethically sound in all life practices, that it still wouldn’t be enough to save the world (don’t worry, I’m working on my god complex). That’s why I know that this effort has to be collective. We, the everyday people, CAN make a difference by making lifestyle changes that are surprisingly easy. We CAN make a huge impact on our society.
To end, since I’ve mined the faults of recent history, I would like to go back a bit further, to find an example of cultural revolution that we can model.
Ever heard of the Renaissance? Let me give you the tiniest of overviews:
The Renaissance emerged from a desire to advance human kind from the dark ages. There was a rediscovery of ancient Greek philosophies and processes that revolutionized a major part of the known world.
Here is what my handy resource guide, Wikipedia had to say about the Renaissance:
“As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources“, … “the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting; and gradual but widespread educational reform. In politics, the Renaissance contributed to the development of the customs and conventions of diplomacy, and in science to an increased reliance on observation and inductive reasoning…the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval.”
It spread all over Europe during the 14-17 centuries and eventually culminated in the time known as the “Age of Enlightenment” in the 18 century. Wikipedia says: “The principal goals of Enlightenment thinkers were: liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, fraternity, and ending the abuses of the church* and state.”
I’m going to go ahead and let you read that last sentence again.
Does it sound like something humanity needs?
A resounding YES! I believe with my whole heart that we need another Renaissance, another Enlightenment.
Now, obviously, I’m not delusional to believe that these periods of the past were without their problems, but we need to look back into history to see what HAS worked. If we can capture the essence of these evolutionary advancements and replicate those ideals in the present; humanity and the planet it lives on, may just have a chance of avoiding future mayhem and catastrophe.
Humanity needs a wake-up call and I want to add my voice to the cause. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want my grandchildren living in hell on earth.
Renaissance Revival exists as a way to document my attempts at creating and cultivating a sustainable, meaningful life.
I want to find better, easier ways to live consciously. I want to share ideas with my community.
I want to engage in a conversation about conscious living.
I want others to see what I am attempting and realize that they can attempt it too. I have a voice and I want to be part of the generation that sparks a revolution!
Do you think living consciously is important? How do you grapple with the environmental stressors of our world? Comment here or on Renaissance Revival’s Facebook page.
Right now I’m writing a post on how to “go green without going crazy” and I would love to dialogue further on this topic! I would love to hear your thoughts!
* I myself belong to a faith community and mean no disrespect to the Church. Tragically, the Church has often not been on the right side of history when it comes to issues of enviromental and social justice, as well as blatant abuse towards children and indigenous cultures.