Learning wild living skills for me is both a pleasurable way to feel part of nature and a long process toward gaining literacy at off-grid living, so that I may have the option of unplugging some day, should I choose to. I sense that this is a vision shared by many people I know.
What I wonder is, to what degree does an embrace of this vision require the rejection of industrial civilization? There are a number of people who would say it requires 100 percent rejection, including all trappings of modern technology. If so, is it terribly ironic, then, that these same folks circulate their views on YouTube videos and social networking sites, which of course can only be viewed via industrially created technology? I’m not asking this question to be a jerk. Judgment isn’t useful. What I am getting at instead is, is there maybe something happening here that eclipses duality?
The internet is clearly useful for spreading information for free and communicating ideas far and wide, and I don’t know anyone who would argue differently. Just in the past year we’ve watched it spark revolutions, overturn laws, shame politicians, and sign petitions that support the rights of indigenous cultures in far corners of the world. The internet is an incredibly empowering and liberating tool. And not just the internet. I have a bookcase full of books, each of which was manufactured and shipped in some way by machines.
The honest truth is, industrialization has created empowerment and liberation all over the world and continues to do so more every day. It is as responsible for polluting and enslaving Nature as for saving it.
In my personal journey I find myself gradually bringing the wild into my life more and more. And yet, I do like listening to an iPod while I run. And I was thinking about how uncluttered my living room could be if I read books on a Kindle or a Nook. Should I feel guilty about that? How can we reconcile who we are with who we would like to be? What it does it mean to be true to our deepest love for Nature, and honoring dreams of a hunter-gatherer future, while being honest about how much we enjoy the many benefits and conveniences of modernity? The alternative reality does not yet exist on a broad enough or strong enough scale for any of us to choose it except in a very isolated way, and hermitage is not for everyone. I think that if we all became hermits, we would not be contributing very much in the way of creating possibilities for the rest of the world. Maybe we are in a transitional state and technology is temporary. If so, how do we choose which we bring in our lives and which we reject? What are our ethical obligations? Or is it cool to relax and embrace it before everything falls apart through a combination of natural disasters, solar flares, and economic meltdown?
What are your thoughts on all of this? What does it mean to you to be authentically yourself in the modern world?