My email this week has been bringing to my attention the various kinds of systemic collapse that could (some say will) occur and the kinds of preparations people are advised to be making. Much of that information is accompanied by offers to sell items to help a buyer deal with the situations anticipated by the articles. Sales efforts aside (much of the Internet seems to have become a marketing endeavor), the point of preparing for an uncertain future is valid.
However, the premises behind that point beg further scrutiny. Yes, change is in the air. It is an indefinable change, for no-one, not even a talented seer, can predict with absolute accuracy exactly what changes will occur. Nonetheless, life is change, and the intensity and pace of modern existence would indicate that whatever changes are coming may not be too far distant. We do need to be aware and thinking. That said, one of the most fragile reasons for making preparations or creating alternative lifestyles is fear. Fear may incite action or sell goods, but fear fails to support the kinds of awareness and attitude needed to create viable responses. Instead of fearing the collapse of what is familiar and convenient, and has sustained us, we need to focus on lovingly creating a new, sustainable and conscious milieu in which to live. We need to transcend fear of and anger at the death throes of what no longer works, and, embracing change, become the life that we desire the change to bring. Will that be hard? Probably, but it is do-able, especially if we think ahead.
There are economists who proclaim that the best investment to make in times of collapse is gold. Some offer ways to hold onto gold despite governments’ efforts to appropriate all the gold for themselves. I think that advice is faulty. One cannot eat gold or wear it. It cannot provide shelter, and supports no life. It seems to me that if one wishes to successfully weather a collapse, create a kinder future, and establish a saner way of relating to the Earth and those with whom we share it, the best investment is land. This is especially true in times of transition. Land is alive (ask any soil expert), and land is certainly a more reliable support for life than gold.
Land is the basis, the canvas, so to speak, on which to create the emergence from the uncertainty of transition. Community is the engine of that creation. A discussion of community is another topic; let it be enough that a lone homesteader will find it difficult to do more than barely survive on his wonderful investment. It takes many hands, be they family, neighbors, tribes, intentional communities, to effectively steward the land sustainably.
If community is the engine to create a mutually healthy plenty on the lane, then skills are the fuel that keep the engine working. Various skills needed, such as growing food, permaculture, healing and herbal medicine, canning and cooking, midwifery, and others, are brought in or learned by those who have invested in the land and work together to steward it.
Last are the tools used, the supplies stocked, the gadgets bought, the items that can be lumped together under the generic term of “stuff”, some of which is mostly essential to doing work, some of which is convenient, some of which is of questionable usage. People tend to love “stuff” and to put this item first. It is easier to accumulate stuff than to accumulate skill, to attract and develop community and to invest in land. However, without the first three, the stuff is pretty much useless, and with the first three, much of what falls under the term of “stuff” can be created if it is not there.
Hedge against the future uncertainty, then, but do so with conscious investment. Land and community are the best investments. Skills are an important asset, and stuff is variably useful. Let us hedge intelligently against an uncertain future. Avoiding fear and the desire to blindly accumulate stuff, let us pay conscious attention to what we wish to create from chaos, and provide ourselves with the space, collaborators and companions, skills and supplies we need. Let us use these in peace to create a kinder and more cooperative world.