Community. We hear the word often enough: “Gated community with homes starting in the $400’s”. But does the word even have any meaning anymore? We wake up early to drive our metal coffins to work, so we can pretend to be someone we are not, in front of people we really don’t like. Then we shuffle out as soon as we can to rush our coffins back to a home we will never pay off. All so we can quickly figure out dinner and chores. We go to bed exhausted, knowing we will wake up and do it all again tomorrow. Wash, rinse, repeat. We never really have time to interact with people, with the exception of boring pleasantries or meaningless conversation about sports and politics. Our coworkers, the people we spend the most time with, are equally bored and just trying to get by without making waves. We toil away to make others rich, never working with those around us to enrich our own lives.
The homes we live in are increasingly larger, yet packed closer and closer together than ever before. Proximity does not equate to togetherness. I challenge you to tell me three details about your neighbor’s week! Did they get a raise at work? Did their kid make the honor roll at school? Do you even know more about them than their name and where they live? You’d think that with ever increasing population densities and the return to urban life, we would be closer to each other than ever before. It seems the opposite is holding true. We are more interconnected with technology and geographically closer in proximity, yet we are all strangers to each other.
If we had to compare this behavior of modern humans to an animal, what species would we choose? In contrast, what could we best compare our hunter-gatherer ancestors to? Why have we allowed our very behavior as a species to be altered this radically?
- Wander without direction on autopilot
- Stay busy
- Never work with others unless required to, or if threatened
- Are confined into small areas in unnatural densities
- Consume food that was pre-packaged
Our hunter-gatherer kin:
- Communicated and traveled with a purpose, often seeking prey
- Spent hours relaxing after basic needs were met
- Worked as a cohesive unit with the goal of bringing down large prey, building a shelter, or harvesting/planting food
- Spread out and managed vast territories
- Ate a wide variety of foods, few of which were grain-based
Today our behavior mostly resembles that of cattle. We are herded from place to place. We are constantly focused on tasks that distract us from long-range planning. We only collaborate because the job requires it. Often, we don’t really enjoy the company of others, but we simply have no choice in the matter. Voluntary association is an unaffordable luxury when you have to put glyphosate-laced bread on the table! We’re confined in dense urban zones, which could only be described as people-CAFO lots. We’re miserable cohabitants of a crowded prison. Our food is deleterious to our health and well-being. We are all but human cattle residing on a feedlot.
By contrast, our ancestors were the masters of their own lives, choosing which direction to take. After a large kill, they could spend days relaxing and enjoying the company of friends and companions. They worked together by choice for common goals. Spreading out and managing vast territories allowed them to eat nutrient dense meats, fats, and vegetables. We were apex predators. We were wolves.
If we ever want to escape the farm and embrace our heritage as keystone species, we must rebuild our sense of community. We must give up the herd mentality, quit going along to get along, and embrace the cohesive togetherness of the wolf pack. It’s often said that, “many hands make light work”. If we could simply learn to work together in voluntary communities, the goal of rewilding would be within our grasp. So, take back your time, find a few like-minded individuals, and get busy! With many hands, you could:
- Build a Permaculture food forest
- Preserve large batches of fermented foods or alcohol
- Build sustainable, low-cost housing
- Share tools and resources most individuals couldn’t afford to purchase alone
- Get in on group buys of basic survival goods and primitive tools
- Install a composting toilet
- Build alternative energy systems
- Help those less fortunate by teaching skills and providing basic necessities
Returning to a sense of community and togetherness, is an important step in the right direction. Create your modern tribe and rewild your local community one project at a time. Feel free to share your results in the comments section!