Friday, August 26, 2016

thoughts on interdependence

I was talking with a woman, a woman somewhere around my contemporary, who was talking about when she and her husband would buy 10 acres for her horse and, as she put it, "buy a tractor and do our own hay."  I opined as unobtrusively as I could, "There's a lot to hay."  She responded, "I know, but I don't like to be dependent on other people."

That sort of an argument, or at least an argument with dependence/independence as the dichotomy, is often used against homesteading.  In general, people homesteading like a good measure of "independence".  And in general, people too lazy to homestead (ok, there may be some other reason) love to give it the all or nothing treatment (bifurcation logical fallacy):  You can't be totally independent so why try at all.

It might look to you like I was doing that to her, but it is different.  "Look, you pay someone for hay (or to do your hay), or you pay someone to work on your tractor, and if your bailer tears up during hay season, no one has the time to fix it until after hay season anyway."  Do you see?  You are not "independent" no matter what.

People often want to be off the grid.  And it isn't that I wouldn't ever do that.  But if there is power available, and if you use as little as alternatives can supply, then there isn't a problem being on the grid.  If you do away with heat (and I don't even have to mention doing away with cool, right?) on the grid, and clothes dryers, well, that's a long way all by itself.  But it is a boon to be able to heat up a cool chick with a heating pad or a light bulb when it is a time of the year that the stove isn't burning.

Really, it is about skills.  And it is about having skills and about appreciating the skills in others.  Because that is another thing, someone told me the other day that there was little to no societal contribution to being a horseman (actually, they said shit shovel-er) or luthier (another word they didn't actually know).   And I had to laugh.  This is a person who has to hire someone to plunge her toilet.  Could this person grow a potato?  Can this person COOK a potato?  Can this person cook corn bread, much less grow then process the corn for that?

And it is also about community.  Tim helps us with cars; we help him with homeschooling.  Dowd helped us 25 years ago; we help him now.  I might think Bill is completely insane with his pyramids, but I'm going to try to help him breed his goats. Mike knows his insecurity lights irritate the fart out of me but he'll let me use his back pasture to isolate off goats to control breeding.

We are all dependent.  That doesn't mean we should wallow in dependence.  We should, it seems to me, seek to add value, to always hope the other person in the exchange feels like they got the best out of the deal, because when you have an exchange and both of you feel like you got the best out of the deal, that's what win-win is.

And in the downright end, like everything else, it comes down to values.  What is important -- status or service?  Appearing to be big and important?  Appearances?  Experiencing something out there?  Or actually being important to some one?  Reality?  Experiencing the here and now intimately?

There are lots of reasons to be independent.  It is nice to be able to skate by a hard spot when you have to on your own, certainly.  But truly, the more independent you are, the more skilled you are, the more useful you are, the more of service you can be.  And real leadership isn't bossing, it is being the most of service.

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