Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Our Large American Life
Although I live in a 1200 square foot "shouse" I have always been a lover of houses. From the time I was a child houses have intrigued me, the older the better. I love secret passageways, quirky architecture and imperfection. Fascinated by both form and function, I'm especially drawn to homes that not only provide shelter to it's inhabitants but also serve as the hub of family industry - in other words, working homes. Ah, but I digress....
Earlier this week, while recuperating from a nasty illness (more on that later), I had the opportunity to watch a house hunting program on television. I rarely have the ability to watch any television programming, so it was a rare treat to tour homes all over the globe from the comfort of my easy chair. The show that I watched followed couples and families as they left the comfort of their native United States and embarked on new lives in a foreign country. Ready for adventure, each family sought to immerse themselves in the culture and uniqueness of their adopted home.
Or did they....
House after house, family after family, I noticed a troubling, recurring theme - the inability to manage extreme hardships - hardships such as no closets, dated kitchens and only 1 bathroom! I was horrified!
As each family trudged from house to house, talking about how they wanted vast cultural experiences for their children, I realized that what they really wanted were new museums and restaurants to explore, while comfortably settling into their thoroughly American style home each evening. Although I'm quite certain they thought they were giving their children an unparalleled cultural upbringing, they, in fact, were living an American life with a cultural flair.
I watched, in awe, as family after family decried each available home - the kitchens weren't updated, they didn't have "American" refrigerators, there was only 1 bathroom, the rooms were so small and my personal favorite - "how do you people live with no closets"? Quite frankly, I was embarrassed. Have we, as Americans, become so accustomed to our comfortable, large lifestyle that we can't "suffer" with limited closet space or, heaven, forbid, a single bathroom? No wonder we are universally despised!
In truth, we approach survival and preparedness in the same "typical American" fashion as those expat families. We claim to be preparing for an uncertain future but in reality, we are preparing to live our large, American life while everyone else is suffering and dying in the street. We are trying to figure out how to keep our larders full and our 2 1/2 baths in working order by throwing money, money and more money at the problem. Instead of preparing to completely change the way we live, to make the best out of a really bad situation, we are trying to think of every possible scenario and anticipate our every "need" - so that we can continue living our large American life.
A number of years ago an acquaintance sought Sir Knight's advice on setting up his desired off-grid system. He wanted advice on food storage, water storage and a photovoltaic system. He told Sir Knight how large his family was, how big his house was, what his appliances were (electric hot water heater, electric dryer, electric range) and other pertinent information. He wanted to know how much food he should store and how large a solar array he needed to run his household and feed his family just the way it was - with no changes to comforts or diet. How much would it cost? Without hesitation Sir Knight said "It would take a million dollars". That was it. With no comprise in standards, any long-term survivability would require at least a million dollars. Of course, that would only work until the first domino of their system fell and then they would be in the dark along with the rest of the world. Their million dollars would be worthless and their large American lifestyle would quickly crumble around them. Without disciplined resourcefulness and practical ingenuity, measured with a healthy dose of focus and strength in the midst of suffering, we American's wouldn't survive a two week power outage much less a full scale economic collapse!
Now is the time to leave your large American life behind. Learn to live with less. Use what you have. Be the one to make bad situations better. Fortify your relationships. Know God and seek His will. Build on those things that cannot be taken from you - faith, skills, courage, discipline, honor.
Invest in authentic preparedness - not in your large American life.