I ran across an interesting article not too long ago, "The Infomocracy Dilemma: Revolution or Disengagement?" I thought it quite perceptive in regards to the mess things are in, and quite timely considering the increasing unrest of late. What especially caught my attention, was the phrase "enlightened disengagement." That got me thinking.
In centuries past, when a people disagreed with their government, they had options: revolt, change it from within, or leave. For this nation, we probably first think of the Pilgrims, the Separatists actually, who saw nothing for it but to separate from an oppressive government and start over on their own terms. Their contemporaries, the Puritans, believed they could "purify" the church/government from within, although ten years later, they started heading for the New World as well. Later, it was revolt, for reasons stated in the Declaration of Independence. After that, it was go west to new territories and undeveloped lands.
I do not believe any of these are viable options in this day and age. Revolt will only result in another greedy, power hungry government eventually, history shows us that. Changing from within is what the democratic process is all about, but look at where we are now; one party treats us like a bunch of dopes, the other patronizes us at every turn. In the end, the only difference between them is semantics. For the public, it's all a game, a show. I have finally concluded (with no apologies to Karl Marx), that politics is the opium of the masses. It keeps us divided and distracted.
The last option on the list is migration, but now, there's nowhere new to go, and no, I'm not standing in line to be one of the first colonists on Mars.
One thing we have seen, is a lifestyle phenomenon called homesteading: rural, urban, and in-between. It isn't within the boundaries of any one political party, religion, philosophy, race, or sexual orientation. The reasons for embarking on it are many. The one thing we all have in common, is that it offers a sense of "doing something about it," as well as hope and a source of security in uncertain times.
A common theme amongst homesteaders, is self-sufficiency. The problem is, of course, that we're still dependent upon the system. We all know that, and seek to cut or at least minimize those ties. We grow our own food and seek energy alternatives. Those things certainly help and give us a greater sense of freedom, but aren't the heart of what keeps us bound to the system. I'm going to suggest that there are three things that ultimately prevent most folks from truly disengaging from a culture that is failing many of us. Those things are debt, insurance, and retirement investments.
Debt. All kinds, because the things we owe on, don't really belong to us, i.e. they belong to the person or institution that loaned the money to obtain them. Another way of looking at it is, my paycheck really isn't mine if I'm in debt. The amount I owe belongs to the lender. I'm allowed to keep it because the lender profits on the interest, and hopes I'll purchase more debt. If the borrower defaults, the lender has the legal, and moral I might add, right to take take it back or collect the debt. Unfortunately they go beyond that and ruin our credit ratings, increase our interest rates, and impose unrestricted fees and penalties. Avoiding all this is what keeps us in line. Of course, if we have no debt, there's no line to tow.
Insurance, all types. Some folks think this is a necessity but personally, I've never had an insurance company do what I paid them for, not without a battle, which was usually a losing one. I think the deception here is that folks think they are purchasing a service, when in fact what they mostly get for their money, is a sense of security, but with no guarantees. Auto insurance is mandated by law; a guaranteed income for the auto insurance companies, and the lawyers one must hire to get them to pay out on claims. Health and life insurance is packaged as a "benefit," but the only ones who seem to benefit are the insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies. And soon the government. "What if" fears keep us locked in here.
Retirement investments. Actually, I could say all investments, except that not everyone has money to invest. Most folks though, feel a retirement account is a necessity. Again, it's a sense of security that has no guarantee. The problem, of which there is an increasing awareness, is corruption in the system. That, and that our perceived wealth from investments is actually a number system rather than real money, as (for example) those who lost it in the 2008 wall street crisis know very well.
Now, you might agree with me on these points, then again, you might not. I'm not going to argue or debate their individual validity, because I think each of us has the right to our own opinions and our own choices concerning them. This just happens to be my opinion, based on my own observations of what's going on around me and my personal experience in these areas. My point, is that I think these are things which keep us from truly disengaging from the system, if that's what we want. Either way, depending on how we view the future, these might be things we need to consider.