We live in a debt-based consumerist culture. You simply cannot deny that. Everywhere we go, everything we do is about purchasing, using, and throwing away. Even so-called “green” products and movements are almost entirely about making money by jumping on the bandwagon.
It wasn’t always like this, though. There was a time when people did everything in their power not to buy things or need things. There was a time when it was understood that if you didn’t have the skills to survive and provide for your family then you were going to be a slave in one way or another.
This concept really took hold during the industrial revolution when people began to choose comfort over freedom. They wanted an easier life so they moved off of the land and into the city. In exchange for that move they had to work for a boss who called the shots in terms of how their time was spent and what their working conditions were.
No longer were people driven by the desire to simply work peacefully with their hands, but now greed was fully encouraged as social and economic “climbing” became the driving force behind how our days were spent.
Fast forward to today and the signs are all around us. Most of our society produces absolutely nothing when it comes to the basic necessities of life. We don’t know how to build shelter. We have no idea how to get water. Food production is done by someone else… it just shows up in the stores, right?
Many people you talk to are in debt in one form or another. A mortgage, a car payment, student loans, thousands of dollars in credit card bills… all of which we will spend our entire lives paying for.
But we live comfortably, right. We have large homes with electricity, running water, central air, televisions, laptops, nice cars.
Do you see how we’ve made a choice? We have chosen to give our days over in a form of debt slavery so that we can live a certain lifestyle. Now, if you don’t care about anything but your quality of life then this really doesn’t matter.
But, if you value your time, your family, your values, your impact on those around us and future generations… then this does matter.
And if you’re stuck in this debt-driven machine then the one place we can look to see how folks lived without debt and major consumption then we need look no further than our ancestors. And what was the main thing they had that we don’t?
They knew how to live on very little so that they could live according to their consciences. They knew how to obtain water, grow food, grind grain, bake bread, make cheese, eat seasonally, sew clothing, and, most importantly, be content with what they had.