What kind of people does the world breed where making money is the primary ambition and only means of survival?
I know I’m not where I’m supposed to be for a 32 year old from a mostly middle class upbringing. But I see where folks are (like my parents and the families around me) with their 9 to 5s, their cars, their homes and mortgages, and they don’t seem happy to me. Kazu and his family look happy though. He works construction but he surfs and travels with his family every opportunity he gets. I have no idea what his philosophy on how he wants to live is but I’m sure he does what he likes despite what others think. And of course people in the family are judging and criticizing but it’s his life and he should do what makes him happy, not what makes others happy. In high school I always said that I wanted to raise my family in the jungle, a hike away from a surfable beach. Maybe it wasn’t such a crazy idea.
I’ve had a lot of jobs, some of them nice, some of them bad, but all of them eventually bad. I don’t belong in the same environment forever. I don’t feel like I belong in an office. But when I’m deep in the forest, alone in nature, I feel at home. I don’t think I could live here; that would be scary (Into the Wild type of scary) even as a thought. I don’t want to be a hermit in the woods, casting away society. I enjoy these ephemeral moments, glimpses into an ancestral past devoid of social media, video games, television, reality shows, everything that makes the world complicated. I enjoy experiencing the climate change throughout the day and as I navigate through different ecosystems. I like sitting on my bear canister, eating tuna from a bag, and watching ants work at my feet. I like watching water of a stream or river roll by and wondering the trip it travels.
A lot of folks who share similar politics with me are still deeply invested in the system they’re critical of. Maybe they’re working for an NGO, or as an educator, or labor organizer, because the directive is in line with their ethics and values. But inevitably they’re building their careers in the same way that any other careerist would. They’re still selling their labor for a wage and it’s important to know where the money is coming from. The reason is that they still want what everybody else has. They want a house, a car, to go on vacation once a year, the recognition, the status… But at the end of the day, the only people who care are the people who are doing the same shit. It’s like they’re waiting for revolution before imagining a different way of living in the present.
What made the movements of the 60s so powerful and revolutionary was that they developed outside of and in opposition to the system. Nowadays movements need to be legitimized by the system to exist. There is no room for imagination where a paycheck is involved. There is no such thing as “ethical work”.
I get along best with simple people with simple goals: to live happy and to be a good person. Civil society makes both of these simple goals really difficult, which is why it’s so important to decolonize emotionally and spiritually from those social constructs that keep us unhappy and make us terrible people. Divesting from materialism, anti-Blackness, whiteness, gender, heteronormativity are part of that process.. But the next step is divesting physically. I thought that meant revolution, but seeing as everybody has different ideas of what that looks like maybe revolution needs to be personal and individualized. Revolution for me is living how I want to live, the way that makes me happy, in spite of what folks are doing around me.
Don’t make a revolution, be a revolution. Be the culture shift. Live differently. Divest from mainstream values. Find an alternative means of happiness that doesn’t involve materialism or consumerism. Some people really want those things. Some people are programmed to want those things. Some people may be a little bit of both. The point is though that nobody is offered a different choice.