Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Take Control

Can we truly feel powerful in our daily lives? When the news, day after day, paints this picture of a government out of control that wants to run every detail of our life and take away things we want and believe we need, how can we feel powerful?

We can sally worth with false machismo waving our weapon. We can stick our head in the proverbial sand through a variety of means like percoset, oxycotin, little blue or purple pill, marijuana, alcohol, etc. We can forward emails about the 28th amendment to our friends and threaten to boycott some business or product. We can even send money to the NRA, Sierra Club, or the Organic Consumers Organization.

Will any of those actions really change anything? They will probably make you feel better for a little while because at least you did something or you temporarily forgot about your perceived state of disempowerment. But when you do wake up in the morning and read the newspaper or that forwarded email from a friend or talk with someone about the daily events, the feelings come right back. You could become a hermit and just unplug completely.

The hermit's life does have a certain appeal. Maybe you could just be in a community of hermits who have completely unplugged from all forms of media. It could work but is a radical step especially if there are family members and friends you like to see, or you like to travel using modern methods, or you want to eat above subsistence level.

So, what can we do to take back our sense of power in the world today? We can Unplug From The Man as Dr. Sherry Ackerman advises. In her publications she advises us to adopt an everyday attitude of reducing our dependance on "The Man" and gain independence. She gives practical advice on how to gather wild food, recycling, and in general changing our mindset so that when the kitchen tool you always use breaks the first thought in your mind is not ordering a new one from Amazon, but how to substitute something else you already own for it.

Will gaining independence foster "taking control"? The definition of independent in Websters: a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing (2) : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit 

Does that answer the question?!

The other trait of those being independent is independent thinking in your own self-interest. An interesting essay by Jared Diamond was published recently. He talks about how humans constantly overreact to uncontrollable risks and underestimate ones we can control.

Studies have compared Americans’ perceived ranking of dangers with the rankings of real dangers, measured either by actual accident figures or by estimated numbers of averted accidents. It turns out that we exaggerate the risks of events that are beyond our control, that cause many deaths at once or that kill in spectacular ways — crazy gunmen, terrorists, plane crashes, nuclear radiation, genetically modified crops. At the same time, we underestimate the risks of events that we can control (“That would never happen to me — I’m careful”) and of events that kill just one person in a mundane way.
Mr. Diamond uses the example of falling in a shower as something that is actually much more dangerous to him personally at age 75 and much more likely to occur because he takes one every day, than any of the events beyond his control. So, the next takeaway is look for those everyday activities you perform and do them mindfully and reduce your own risk. That can be taking precautions when using power tools to eating well to reducing or eliminating other risky behaviors in your life like racing your car around that blind turn, taking illicit drugs of unknown strength and mixture, or a myriad of activities you know are risky.

Take control today! It is not difficult. Start with the small things and keep working on it everyday. As Ms Ackerman wrote in her Sticking It To The Man article:
Another form is something I call unplugging from The Man. Scott Nearing put it succinctly when he wrote that he:

"must reduce wants and even needs to a minimum; wherever possible, serve myself, raise and prepare my own food, wash my own clothing, do my own building and repairing, maintain the best of health to avoid the heavy costs involved in sickness, keep down such fixed costs as rent, interest and taxes; never borrow and take on interest slavery, but always pay cash; build up a capital reserve sufficient to cover a full year of unemployment, and be prepared for emergencies."
We may only do a portion of these, but, it does not matter. Every little thing adds up to more independence. And, following in the definition from Webster, that means less control of us by others.

Take Control! I salute your independent attitude!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Best of 2012

This is my list of the best and most useful places, ideas, things, etc of 2012. These are not necessarily new to 2012 but what moved onto my radar last year. Click to read on.