I just reconnected with a dear friend I met overseas 20 years ago and haven’t seen since. I am quite delighted by this unexpected event. She is an interesting, artsy sort of person who likes to contemplate big questions and then fold her discoveries into film making. These days she is contemplating this: how does society destroy love? I have been thinking about this question of hers for several days. I think it has captured my imagination because it frames what we constantly think about and talk about here at Pockets of the Future a little differently than we usually frame it and that slight difference is shedding light for me.
What is the ground from which love springs? To start with, I believe that love and the ability to love (not be attached, mind you, but actually love) are natural to us. The ability to recognize love and be love is part of our Original Design. Therefore that which is unnatural takes us away from love and, given enough time and force, eventually destroys it. The ground of love is also characterized by simplicity, intimacy, and awareness. The atmosphere of love is one of purity and desirelessness. There is a timelessness to love and with that comes the ability to wait and to perceive correctly.
Love holds you accountable beyond all other ideas or obligations. It requires of you the maximum in all ways in terms of willingness, cooperation, patience, sacrifice and acceptance. Not because that which is loved demands those things of you but because your own loving heart demands those things of you. Love itself demands those things of you.
Within love, there can be no force, no willfulness, no profligate excess, no flagrant disconnection, no distraction, no noise. As long as love holds sway, any such tendencies will be thrown up to the surface to be washed away for there is no place for them. The ripples they cause within the ocean of love are disruptive. The ocean of love is mighty and moves to roll over and over such tendencies until they are polished back into love.
Ideally, human society would reflect the Original Design just as individuals most thrive by reflecting the Original Design. What would such a natural society look like? I have no idea. I have thought about this question since I was in graduate school studying social policy and yet I still have no idea. That is the unvarnished truth.
I do know, though, that it would not look at all like what we have going on right now. The goals of present day human society do not include anything to do with love, never mind fostering love. In fact I would go further and say that the goals of present day human society run precisely counter to love. Or perhaps it is ultimately the most accurate to say that love runs counter to virtually all aspects of present day human society and it is because of this and this alone that a great correction is in the offing.
The keywords characterizing present societies run along the lines of domination, profit mongering, control, an obsessive pursuit of physical comfort, fear, placation, instant gratification, ignorance, denial of reality, destruction of all natural resources both within and without, specialization, learned helplessness, disconnection - in short, immorality. Human society is built around taking from nature what nature is not designed to give over the long run. Human society is built around procuring for humans what is not in the best interest of humans to have. And it forcibly denies (both in terms of acknowledging and in terms of allowing) humans access to what is natural, right, congruent, loving.
I have been thinking of the specifics of this in terms of the life cycle. Pregnant women are “managed” and made to answer to the medical system of childbirth. Their access to appropriate care takers, foods and medicines and the time and atmosphere most suitable for pregnant women is regulated and denied them. Childbirth itself is an event dominated by technology and control which is by far and away not in the best interest of mother and infant. The powerful spiritual opportunity the natural intimacy between mother and infant provides and which is the foundation of the family, healthy childhood development and so on is methodically denied and destroyed.
Intimacy is a very delicate state. I remember back to when I had my first baby. My parents came to visit when she was just a couple of weeks old. Now my parents had never been interested in or supportive of children or family or marriage. Those things held little value for them. They were well traveled, educated people who needed to be entertained. They were not the kind of parents who came to help out. Rather they came to eat the best food and see the most interesting sights in the area and so on. Oh right, and see the baby. Now up to the point of their visit, my intimacy with my daughter was total but by the time my parents left three days later, not only was I exhausted but I detected a slight shift in myself. Even though my baby girl had been in my arms the whole three days, my attention had been forcibly drawn elsewhere and this had created a slight space in our intimacy. I only had the opportunity to see this because I went back to my old quiet ways with her immediately upon their leaving. The space was filled back in with loving intimacy right away because I saw it. This was an incredible revelation to me - the delicacy of intimacy. Whatever direction we start in, we tend to continue on with. A slight space or rift in our attention, our connection, our intimacy will lead to a rift and thence to distance unless we take corrective action. But to do that you have to see it and to see it, you have to stop and feel and take note and that society does not want us to do. This subtle intimacy is true of all important relationships (familial, spiritual and so on) and it brooks no master other than love itself. I don’t think many of us can even imagine any longer what it means to live within a web of truly intimate relationships.
We could go on and on through the entire life cycle like this. People get married at odd times and have children at even odder times in order to accommodate educational and professional schedules. Children are sent to schools to be tooled to fit into the industrial/technological economic model. Mothers and fathers are both out in the workplace earning and earning and earning. Families live in houses that are too big and filled with too much technology that fosters individual isolation rather than family togetherness and which sit empty most of the time. Health care revolves around technology, rules, ignorance and profit with natural, simple, timely approaches to health problems frequently outlawed. Care and instruction about health, child rearing and virtually all other endeavors of daily life comes from so-called experts and not from trusted family members or elders of the community. Older people are shuffled off into buildings and systems designed to manage them away from the hustle and bustle of a profit oriented society. And the land and nature? No connection whatsoever any more. Nature has been objectified into a sometimes recalcitrant provider of resources owed to the owners of production. People do not even know how to eat any more so how can they be expected to love? All relationships have been fractured. Society and, perhaps, particularly American society, pitches towards the system and away from intimacy, love and connection at all points of the day and the life cycle. As my husband frequently notes, present day society rewards sociopathic behavior and calls men with soft hearts weak. Many others note that highly intelligent, well educated women who choose to give themselves up to love and intimacy at home are said to be wasting their educations and lives. Where would love and intimacy, simplicity and awareness even come from under such conditions?
This kind of list is not new at all. What is new to me, however, is thinking of this endlessly negative list of how society functions so unnaturally as society methodically destroying love. And destroy love it must. You cannot control people who live by the dictates of love. When people are firmly grounded within familial and spiritual love and intimacy, they will not choose to sacrifice their ways of live in order to buy widgets. When people live close to the land in grateful reciprocity, they will not be as inclined to listen to foolishness. They know better. They still listen to their hearts. They can still recognize, at least a little bit, the difference between natural and artificial and know from long experience that natural is always better in the long run. (This pivots to a certain extent upon how you define the word natural which is a surprisingly interesting topic I will save for another post some day.)
All of this brings me to the vibrant reason we homestead here and homeschool and meditate and do so many other of the things that we do and talk about. We want real food, yes. We believe in our rights to self-determination from a political standpoint and revile NAIS or the watering down of the definition of organic or any attempts to control homeschooling and bring it back into the fold of profit and control, yes. We want our children to learn real life skills like milking a cow or reading the weather or designing and creating what they need for their daily lives themselves, yes. We know from experience that a life with a balance of physical efforts along with mental and all other efforts is a healthier life, yes. We can go on and on with this list too of why homesteading and homeschooling and slow cooking real food and living simply and so on are life affirming choices that promote intimacy and quiet awareness.
But really we homestead and homeschool to preserve love. We homestead and homeschool to preserve our family, to preserve our beautiful intimacy, to preserve our Divine heritage. We homestead and homeschool and live simply in order to have the space to create community, to create the quiet within which to hear what comes next, to create the future.
Someday, someday the phrase “society, love and homesteading” will not be a study in contrasts. Someday “society, love and homesteading” will be a phrase of natural congruity. And when that day comes, that phrase “society, love and homesteading” will be reduced to one single all important word.
The rest won’t matter. Societies and ways of life will be original, natural expressions of love and gloriously un-noteworthy because there will be just that one word and that will be enough.
From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,