If everybody lived like me … then what?
This is a common response to people who observe my life from afar. It is usually something that I read in the internet comments of articles that have been written about me or in the comments of my own social media. Sometimes the statement or question is made with genuine curiosity. They are genuinely questioning our society’s current way of existing and wondering what my vision for the future of humanity is.
Often, the statement or question arises from frustration or anger. Sometimes people assume that I think everybody should live like I do, or do as I do. Sometimes people assume that I haven’t thought ahead and that my actions are based on short-sighted thinking. Sometimes people assume that I have a very narrow frame of reference based solely on my own limited experience.
I am Seeking Change in Society
I am often met with defensiveness when I speak about my choices to live in a different way from society. There’s a lot of people who want things to stay the way they are. Well, when the United States has just 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of the world’s resources, I sure don’t want things to stay the way they are. When we are consuming approximately five Earth’s worth of resources annually, while we only have one Earth, I sure am looking for change. While 1% of humanity’s population has more resources than half the entire population (over four billion people), I am looking for massive change.
Yes, I am seeking basic rights for all humans. I am seeking a humanity that lives in alignment with Earth and the millions of species of plants and animals that we share this home with. As I have undergone a radical transformation in my own life, I am seeking a radical transformation in humanity. Now, whether I am seeking it or not makes little difference in the fact that change is coming. Change has always happened and it will continue to happen. The way that we are currently living, major change for humanity is just on the horizon. Personally, I’d rather come together as a humanity to make that a change of joy rather than of great suffering.
Diversity as a Solution for Humanity and Embracing Culture
So, for everyone who thinks that I want us to be doing something differently, you are correct. You heard me loud and clear in that regard. But, to assume that I want everyone to live like I do is simply not in alignment with my belief system. I believe that diversity and bio-diversity are two of the fundamental solutions to the crises that we are in as a humanity and are two of the absolute baselines that allow Earth and life to function. Bio-diversity is quite easy to understand. Millions and millions of species exist on this planet and they interact in billions of different ways. Within any ecosystem, there are hundreds or thousands of species interacting that depend upon each other for their survival and for their ability to thrive. This is co-existence. This is inter-dependence among the plants and animals.
To take that further, I believe that diversity in humanity is essential for our survival and for our ability to thrive. Over the last few hundred years, thousands of human cultures have become extinct and many are on the brink of extinction right now. We are seeing a great homogenizing of humanity in part through industrialization and globalization. I see this at the center of humanity’s potential demise. What I’m an advocate for is thousands of thriving cultures doing things differently from one another. For our entire existence as a humanity, each culture’s existence has depended upon the land on which they live, the plants and animals they share the space with and the resources they have access to. This basic fact creates an incredible amount of diversity in humanity. This basic fact is largely what contributes to the creation of cultures. It is these relationships to our surroundings, this culture, that has kept us living in relative harmony with Earth. I am an advocate for a diverse humanity.
The Roles We Play in Society
Now, within each of these individual cultures, there is also an incredible amount of diversity. There have always been many roles to be carried out in order for a society to function. Many of these are more specialized roles and as life has become more modern and complex, many more specialized roles have evolved. I am an advocate for these specialized roles and for unspecialized roles which include teachers, caretakers, doctors and medicine people, herbalists, doulas and death assistants, farmers, hunters and gatherers, cleaners, entertainers, musicians, civil servants and public servants, scientists, carpenters, builders, toolsmiths, clothes makers, philosophers, elders, storytellers, children, parents, relatives and the list could go on for thousands more roles. Any society that I want to be a part of would always have many people playing many different roles. All humans would play numerous roles, some would specialize in just one role, others would specialize in many roles. All roles would matter and all roles would be valued.
So, do I think “everybody should live like me”? At this point, that is clearly not my belief, but I would like to expand further. I have numerous roles in society. I am a servant, an activist, a social reformer, a peacemaker, a leader, an educator, a truth seeker, an advocate for others, among others. There are many roles I serve for humanity and many people seek me in these roles. At the same time, there are many roles that I do not play where I seek the support and expertise of others. This is part of being human. This is where I walk the balance of independence and interdependence. I absolutely do not want everybody to live like me and I believe that humanity would not function holistically if everybody lived like I do.
If Everybody Lived Like Me … “Nature Would be Destroyed”
I’m very grateful for everyone who has genuinely asked this question and every person who has taken a jab at me and tried to bring me down. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share on this topic and express what it means to be alive for me. With that, I would like to expand on this further. When people say things like: If everybody lived like me … “nature would be destroyed”, “there would be no food left to forage”, “there wouldn’t be enough space for everyone”, “there would be nobody to take care of you”, “society would collapse because there wouldn’t be someone to do such and such”. I remember to take a deep breath. I remember that they are not in my mind, and they are likely not trying to understand my viewpoint. They may feel afraid of losing their comfort or their way of being. They may assume that I have not thought it through. And here’s where I’ll place my judgment. They themselves are likely not zooming out and looking at the big picture.
If everybody lived like me, then what? Well, that would mean that our entire society had the desire to transform their way of existence. It would mean that every human wanted to live in harmony with Earth. It would mean that as we harvested resources from Earth, including foods and medicines, that we’d be creating relationships of reciprocity with plants and animals (read: Braiding Sweetgrass). It would mean that we’d be taking responsibility for our own waste and creating closed-loop systems rather than linear systems that end up in the landfill. It would mean that we would cherish our water and treat the water as if it was one of us. It would mean that we understood where things come from, how they get to us and the impact that was made throughout the entire process. It would mean that we are focused on building community and actually depending on one another. It would mean that every human was self-reflecting on their lives and striving to be more understanding and accepting of other ways of being.
If Everybody Lived Like Me … A Transformation of Our Society
If everybody wanted to live like I do, we’d see a total transformation of our society. Many of the current roles would cease to exist and many new roles would be formed. Many of the societal structures would crumble, ie. the Military Industrial Complex, the Prison System, the militarized police force, corporate lobbyists, power hungry politicians, Big Ag, the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the advertising industry, much of the judicial system would all collapse. Decentralized roles would increase greatly. Humans would be taking their power back. Humans would be cultivating skills. Humans would move way from specialization and form more extensive relationships with their communities and their environment. So much would change.
Society as we know it would collapse. I am an advocate for this. I want this society to cease to exist as it is, to make way for a society that does not wage war against one another, that does not wage war on Earth, that does not wage war on the plants and animals we share this home with, that does not wage war on the very bacteria that makes us who we are. I want this current society to collapse, but not to cease to exist. I want us to transform as a society.
I Don’t Want Society to Be ME
Yes, I do model in my life much of what I want society to become. But I don’t want society to be me. I am doing the best that I can with the limited resources I have in very destructive, oppressive and exploitative times to live in truth and spread this truth among humans. Even I don’t agree with everything I do. I’m never able to live exactly the way that I’d like to. I’m never able to model exactly what I’d like to see in the world. But I am confident that if as a humanity we modeled the values that I am striving for, we would all benefit. Yes, the rich and powerful would become less rich and powerful, but in this dominator society everyone is suffering.
I’d be pretty amazed if someone were to read this with an open mind and still think that I want everyone to live like me. I clearly don’t. I want you to be you. I want you to be your own unique you. And I want me to be me. I want me to be my own unique me. My life is not meant to serve as a model of exactly what to be. Again, I have numerous specialized roles that I play – servant, social reformer, activist. Just as there are no doctors who think that everyone should be a doctor and there are no professional football players who think everyone should be a professional football player, I do not think that everyone should do what I do.