Monthly Archives: December 2011

Voluntary Poverty

For the past several years, I have chosen to live a life of voluntary poverty. I have several reasons for choosing this lifestyle. Firstly, I do it for the sake of simplicity, and to improve my own quality of life by focusing on necessities rather than the things I might simply want. Secondly, I do it to better sympathize with those who live in forced poverty and to experience the meaning of the words: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” I do it also in protest of this culture of rampant consumerism, of the idea that wealth and materialism can bring happiness, and of the fact that need and hunger persist in the presence of abundance and waste. Lastly, I do it in protest of taxes used to fund militarism, imperialism, and war. More information can be found about living below taxable income levels as a form of war tax resistance here:  http://nwtrcc.org/practical5.php

Over the years, I have developed a few tactics for staying poor. I found a part-time, close to minimum wage job working at the local public library. (I’ve enjoyed working for a non-profit organization that provides free services to the community.) Living in a house or apartment with a number of other house mates also helps to reduce the cost-of-living. Trying to buy things second-hand as often as possible is also helpful, and if you must buy something new, try to buy the product that will last as long as possible. Most of the things that I possess were offered to me by friends and family when they were looking to get rid of them. And of course, libraries are an excellent resource because they allow you to borrow things, saving you from the burden of owning them. After I began working at the library, I immediately ceased paying for books, CDs, and movies. Many libraries also offer other free resources to their patrons, such as tickets to sporting events and dress rehearsals to plays and operas.

Another way to save money is to participate in work exchanges. This past season I volunteered regularly on an organic farm and was allowed my pick of the produce that didn’t sell at the Farmers’ Market. This saved me money on buying groceries and supplied me with fresh, local, organic produce. And, if you have the space for it, you can start your own garden at home in your yard, or you can begin a container garden on a balcony or porch (Urban Agriculture). Another option is to go WWOOFing.  “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” is a network providing information on farms that offer food and shelter in exchange for work.

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Systems

This is a sculptural performance by a friend of mine, Evan Shurlow.


On Anarchy and Violence

I was talking to a friend recently about anarchy and the use of violence to 
overthrow the powers that be. He told me about a conversation he had been 
in with several anarchists of this persuasion. When they were questioned 
about what would happen after the government was overthrown and how a 
nonhierarchical structure would be enforced, they simply replied that, 
"the people would figure it out for themselves." 

This is why I don't agree with that: If the people are capable of figuring 
it out for themselves after a violent revolution, then they are capable of 
figuring it out for themselves without one. I mean that people can form a 
nonhierarchical system of governance here and now just as easily as they 
could in the chaos that would follow the overthrow of the government. 
People are the police & the military & the government. If people would 
decide simply to govern themselves today all these things would wither and 
die. 

There is really only one way in which a nonhierarchical structure could 
exist, and that is if everyone involved chooses that lifestyle. The other 
(illusory) option is through forceful coercion. In reality though, no one 
can force another to do anything. One can threaten, torture, and imprison, 
but the choice to resist always remains. Until of course, the use of deadly 
force is employed. This is why I think true "anarchy" exists within the 
already established order. It exists today in the individuals and 
communities that embrace that lifestyle. The more powerful that movement 
becomes, the less power and authority the government wields over the people. 

I personally am interested in the establishment of sustainable communities 
that barter, trade, share and live as though the government is irrelevant. 
I hope that over time enough people will see that way as a better way to 
live and will migrate to that lifestyle. These communities could be doing 
outreach also, always ready to educate and encourage dialogue with 
interested people from other walks of life.

first things first

Hello, World.

I have a few reasons for starting this blog. In short, I’m doing this to find a voice. I think a lot and have strong opinions, but I’m not really inclined to share my ideas with anyone outside of my group of close friends. This blog is a challenge to myself, to make my most private thoughts public and engage myself in dialogue with a greater community.