by Leo Babauta
There was a lot of positive reaction to my last post: society, reimagined … and it was encouraging, to say the least. Lots of people want to live in a world that’s car-free, digital (except for books, which many people don’t want to give up), unschooled, locavore, non-consumerist, with lots of free time instead of wage slavery.
Here’s the thing: you can already have it, right now.
So often we forget that the things that constrain us … they’re in our heads.
They don’t exist in the real world, except where we believe they exist. Money, for example … we already live in a moneyless world, as money only exists in our heads. Sure, there’s the physical paper money or gold coins, but those have no value except the value we believe they have, and our ability to buy things with money, our need to do work for money, our stress over not having money or owing money … it only exists in our heads. The world around us, if we suddenly stopped believing in money, would be moneyless.
Governments are the same. The U.S. Declaration of Independence states that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” … but actually, they exist only in the minds of the governed, and only have power so long as the governed allow them to have power. The same applies to any system: schools, work, banks, and so on — they exist in our minds.
And so, to live in a world reimagined, we only need to use our imaginations. We have that power already.
Want to live in a car-free world? Stop using a car. Now the world you live in becomes one in which you walk, bike, and use mass transit. Others might not follow, but that’s their choice. If you want to live where there aren’t any cars, there exist such places and you can move to one of those places, if that’s important to you. But already, you can live in a car-free world.
Want to live in a world where your food isn’t shipped thousands of miles and grown unsustainably by agribusiness? Start a garden. You can just start with one plant, and then another, until you have enough to eat eventually. Or start a community garden or use farmer’s markets, or join (or start) a CSA.
Want to live in an unschooled world? Unschool your kids. It’s not hard, and takes zero resources — although the Internet and the library are great if you can get them, and the world around us is an unlimited resource for education.
Want to live in a non-consumerist world? Stop buying things. Make things last, reuse things and move to reusable things (such as cloth napkins and glass containers), fix things when they break, trade, join Freecycle. Stop watching ads (which might mean you stop watching TV or reading ad-supported magazines and newspapers).
Want to live in a paperless world? Stop buying and using paper. Want to work from home or near your home? Start a business where you can do that now (it costs almost nothing), or work with your boss to telecommute.
Want happiness? Everything you need is already here, in the world around you: beautiful people, gorgeous nature, the legs you need to walk among these things, and the eyes, ears and mouth you need to appreciate them.
I acknowledge that we won’t stop global warming with just our own actions, but at the least, we’ve stopped participating in the destruction of our planet … and at best, we inspire others by showing them it’s possible.
I realize these things would be better with larger numbers, so find a friend or family member willing to join you, and you have a partner. Then a third, and a fourth, and now you have a club. Get a fifth, and you have a movement. And then you have some real magic.
But the magic, my friends, can start today.