We all know that things need to change. We know it in our bones. Society, as it is, is broken. We see the rich getting unimaginably rich and everyone else losing everything. Pretty much every aspect of our infrastructure is corrupt and is run by people who are greedy and apathetic. Extremism has become the norm in politics and religion and it looks like everyone is simply divorcing themselves from reality. Those who are supposed to protect and serve instead harass and abuse. Everyone ignores pertinent issues and instead focuses on banal entertainment fodder. It seems that as long as people are fed and entertained, they will tolerate every form of decline. How are we to survive this?
No policy change will make it better, because it still takes place within a defunct system. We need a complete overhaul, but it won’t be enacted by the current system. It will only come about when people take it upon themselves to stop playing along and create something else. It has to start with our own minds.
Now, I know that feeling you just got. “Not another treatise on imagining things into reality and New Age mumbo-jumbo!” You’re right, this isn’t one. No mumbo-jumbo here. Just practical, useful information to deprogram ourselves from all the bullshit and restructure how we think so that we can restructure how we live, and create an entirely new infrastructure based not on some ideology, but on what makes rational, practical sense. Based on what simply works. However, that mountain of bullshit is mighty high. We will bring that mountain down, or we will go extinct.
Or, even worse, we’ll survive and complete our decline into idiocracy. A nation of people who spend their days in cubicles and nights absorbing misinformation while stuffing their faces with monochromatic lumps of slow death. Perhaps we’ll evolve a second mouth so that we simultaneously can stuff ourselves while spouting talking points and Bible verses, and quoting sitcoms and “reality” shows. Should anyone question the status-quo, they’ll be drowned out by the senseless gibbering of ignorant automatons which will only subside when they get hungry or have to go shopping. Their day will end with drinking pisswater beer and laughing at lolcats. We’re nearly there as it is, so we have no time to lose. Let’s get to it!
If you’re offended by any of the above, then you likely enjoy the status quo, and you can have it. However, the rest of us are moving on.
See, not everyone will come along for the ride. At first, it will be a few of us, followed by a groundswell of people defecting from the current system. Of course, we’ll be demonized and made to look like the most destructive force since exposed breasts, but our adherence to common sense, rationality, and facts will make their arguments look as stupid as they are. A ton of people will still stick steadfastly to their broken system and others will claim to represent us while spouting wingnuttery. Eventually it will become like marijuana: many partake and many disparage, and they do so side-by-side. However, we’ll be happier, or at the very least, have a sense of purpose and usefulness rather than simply squandering our lives as we make others rich.
There are already some people living the symbiotic lifestyle but just haven’t put a name to it. Many individuals and some loosely gathered. Many have decided to covertly live as they will and let everyone else play the game. Stealth symbiotism, as it were.
What do I mean by symbiotism? Well, the word usually refers to two different species whose survival depends on each other, like bees and flowers. In this book, I use it to mean interdependence rather than just dependence. The current societal structure has us dependent on the government and the economy for pretty much everything. A symbiotic society simply depends on people helping each other out without all the red tape, corruption, and ideology. It’s where people make use of their talents and abilities to enrich each others’ lives and work together to create a means of living that isn’t some useless, soulless, timesink that makes some people rich while they live paycheck to paycheck if they’re lucky.
No, it’s not about forming communities, at least not in the usual sense. People live where they will and how they will, but the way they conduct their lives and the effort they put forth helps create lives of practicality, fulfillment, and sometimes even happiness. It’s helping each other live lives that make sense.
It’s also not about pure logic and function. Without passion, what’s the point?
You may have heard of Burning Man. It’s based on the concept of radical self-reliance. It means you have the ability to take care of your own needs, but at the same time, everyone comes together to create a necessity that most leave out when talking about the basics: amazing experiences. Burners are fiercely independent, yet share the deepest of bonds. These bonds are not possessive and are nearly indefinable, and they’re mostly unspoken, but the effect of them is tangible and transformative.
The experience of Burning Man is similar to what I am trying to describe as symbiotism. Burning Man takes place in a lifeless, alkaline, flat expanse comprised of nothing but dust. The symbiotism I’m talking about can take place among the vast resources of the whole world. It will take courage, it will take resourcefulness, creativity, imagination, discipline, and intense self-examination, and it will be worth every frustrating pain of growth that happens along the way.
Now, let me be clear that I’m not talking about creating Burning Man-like events as a way of life (though some happily do), I simply use it as an example of what is possible. We can use our intelligence and passion to create lives worth living, but it means we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. We need to do this not just for ourselves, but for each other. Either that, or more of the same.
Sometimes life is a choice of two hells: one hell is a difficult process of transformation where you come out on the other side much stronger and resilient and fulfilled, and the other has you continuing to do what you are doing now for the rest of your life. Your choice.
© 2015 William Suphan
- How We Disagree
- The Focus of Community