Monday, June 30, 2008

the big question

OK, so maybe you're worried. Maybe, like myself, you are very concerned about the state of the world right now. You've found so much information that just completely smashes to bits all of what you've been taught. You know it's not right. You know it's not fair. But "life isn't fair", so they say. Does that mean that you're just going to give up? Yeah, I know, it's all so overwhelming that the temptation to just continue existing instead of living is huge. But what I am finding is that maybe it's not so hard after all.
Whenever I see a video or read an article about 9/11, or civil rights, or how our government doesn't honor our constitution, I want to know, "What can I do?" Most people say "write to your Congressperson." And that's all well and good, and I have been known to do it on occasion. But there's never a response, so how do I know that my letter has even been read, let alone considered? Honestly, that just makes me think that writing letters is a monumental waste of time. I will continue to do it for causes I feel very strongly about, because perhaps the reason I get no response is because of the thousands of other letters they receive about the same subject.
So what else can I do? Well, personally, I have been living a lifestyle that is not taxing on the environment and my wallet. I have never really had a "good paying" job, so I have always had to be frugal, anyway. As it turns out, being frugal is quite a bit more enjoyable than having all the money I need to buy anything I want. It requires some creativity on my part, which I rather like.
I will admit, not having much money can be frustrating. I realized a long time ago that working for any corporation is enough to make me want to put a noose around my neck and jump, and even working for independent business owners has it's fair share of burdens for me. I have long known that I wanted to have a business of my own, but could never quite settle on what to pursue. A big part of my problem is, I want to do it all, but having no money to go into it with makes it very hard. I am currently doing what I can with the resources I have available.
I realize that my one basic desire is to be self sufficient. I don't want to rely on anyone else for my comfort, my needs, or anything else. It's not that I don't appreciate the help when it comes to me, but I don't go out of my way to get it. The reason is because in all the jobs I have had, (with very few exceptions) I have experienced that "having a boss" is one of the most frustrating and stressful things I have had to deal with. All the jobs I have liked always came with a catch. Like when I worked at a sign shop, painting all day, but my boss was an alcoholic and coke head, so I sometimes didn't get paid. Or when I worked for a small new age shop that wanted a website - but I wound up working the counter at the store more often than I got to work on the website, and when I did work on the site, I was getting paid as though I was working the counter of the shop. Don't get me started on the corporate bosses I have dealt with over the years. Evil, I tell you.
The only job I have had that I enjoyed and stuck with for more than 2 years was art modeling (which I wrote about in detail in an earlier post.) It was more like freelancing than "reporting for duty"... I didn't really have a boss, just a few kind folks who helped me create a schedule every semester and would hand me a check every 2 weeks. No dress codes, no bullying, no intimidation. Just show up, do the work, get paid. No stress.
I was talking to Joe the other day about how hard it would be for me to get a small business loan, because I don't have a spotless credit record (though I will say I haven't accumulated much debt in my lifetime - mostly student loans and medical bills) no one would consider giving me a loan. However, immigrants come to the US and they are given the opportunity to own a business. I don't hold this against the immigrants, of course, but it is rather unfair that a lifelong American citizen like myself can't receive this opportunity, but someone who just came here for the first time can. The system is pretty fucked, if you ask me. But I don't want their help. I mean, if our system wasn't corrupt, I would certainly be more willing, but I want nothing from them (and it's not like they would give me anything, anyway.) I know, it's my responsibility to pay back my debts, but how can I when I barely make enough to live on? I am so glad I saw from early on that credit cards were nothing more than plastic doom. And in some respects I wish I never went to art school for that one year - had I been able to finish and get my degree, I might have been able to find a suitable job that would pay me what I'm really worth, but because I completed only one year, it's been retail, food service, and other crap jobs ever since. And my dream to be self sufficient is only half-realized.
I want my own business. Period. I am working on this as I type. Joe and I have been making videos for sale for almost a year now, but I've long since stopped enjoying that work, and we haven't come close to breaking even with it. I think it's a failure and would like to move away from it. Joe is more determined to stick with it than I am, but because of his long commute and work days, he hasn't got much time to focus on it. We invested in a silk screening set up, and we'll begin making shirts and prints very soon. The work shed is almost complete, and we need to order more screens and shirts before we can get started. We have a thriving vegetable garden going, and when it comes time to harvest, I have a feeling that we will have more than we can eat on our own, so we will set up a small farm stand in our yard, and that will be another additional income. There are many more things I want to pursue. I have the time, but I don't have the money, so these other projects will have to blossom first, I guess. What's worrisome to me is that I want to get prepared for the worst while I hope for the best. This also ties into my desire for self sufficiency. We want solar panels and wind power generating electricity and heat for us. We want to stockpile food and other supplies. We already started on the garden, but next year, I want to build some raised beds and have a larger garden. I want to create more recycled art, which I haven't done at all since I moved back to MA.
And the list goes on and on, folks.
I am telling you about my story because I think that it might answer the "What can I do?" question. I don't believe the answer is fighting, I believe the answer is changing our ways. Taking down corporations and big government isn't about going to Washington, guns blazing, making demands. The subtle approach is a far better one - Money is what talks with these people. They are raising the prices of oil, which is in turn raising the prices of everything else. They think that the poor will just die off. Well, if you're poor but you don't want to die, then get resourceful. Do what you have to do to live. Grow a garden so you can eat. Get some DIY projects rolling. Be innovative. You don't need their brand name products to live - but they want you to think so, because it means more money for them and less for you. Why would you want to give them your money, anyway, especially the food producers? Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the ingredients on the labels.
Do you see "High fructose corn syrup?"
HFCS was rapidly introduced in many processed foods and soft drinks in the US over the period of about 1975–1985.
Since its introduction, HFCS has begun to replace sugar in various processed foods in the USA and Canada. The main reasons for this switch are:

* HFCS is somewhat cheaper due to the relative abundance of corn and the relative lack of sugar beets, as well as farm subsidies and sugar import tariffs in the United States.
* HFCS is easier to blend and transport because it is a liquid.
* HFCS usage leads to products with much longer shelf life.
There is a correlation between the rise of obesity in the U.S. and the use of HFCS for sweetening beverages and foods.
-from Wikipedia

It's in almost everything, from Cheerios to Ketchup.

Do you see "Aspartame"?
Click here to read about the Aspartame controversy.

How about "Mono sodium glutamate"?

There are, of course, many others as well. If this isn't a good reason to grow your own food and shop at farmer's markets, I don't know what is.

Now I know what you're thinking, "I don't have time/space to grow my own food!"
Sorry, that's an excuse. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can grow food indoors, in planters, or in a countertop hydroponics system such as the AeroGarden. It only takes a few minutes a day to care for your plants, and if you have a hydro system, it takes even less than that.
Convenience is not better, for anyone. We've been bred to be lazy, to rely on the corporations and their products. And what do we get for it? Crap additives in our food supply that bring about disease. That's completely unacceptable. I'm not saying that everyone needs to make this huge drastic lifestyle change. In all honesty, going green and self sufficient ends up costing you a lot less money in the long run, it's healthier for you and your family, it's better for the environment, and the corporations slowly die off like they've been trying to do to us.
So, what are you going to do? Are you going to keep going along with the system that doesn't care about you and yours, or are you going to stand up, say NO to the corporations, and take responsibility for your life? It's your choice. No one is going to make you do anything you don't want to do. But keep in mind that in the long run and in the end, you are the only person you can truly and fully rely on. So stop relying on others and make a real life for yourself. Encourage others. Teach your children. Maybe someday we can trust that we can rely on each other and ourselves instead of on big business.

There is much more that I would like to talk about, but I am going to end here. I don't want to come off like I am enforcing my opinions on anyone. I just want to share what I know, and encourage others to try living a self sufficient lifestyle before it's too late. I have read that gas may go up to $12 a gallon before the end of next year. What do you think that means for food prices? Will you keep paying high prices for gas to get to work? Will you be able to afford to get to work?

The US is about to be humbled. Don't let it destroy your life and the lives of the people you care about. Please take the initiative and get your freedom back.

No comments: