I’ve tried to follow the rules in my life for the most part. I obeyed my parents (mostly) and my teachers. I’ve always tried to pay my bills to the best of my ability, stay gainfully employed, and contribute to society. I have been, in essence, a conformist. But now, I’m beginning to develop a non-conformist side - the whispers are becoming louder and more incessant...
Downsizing - this has become a buzzword as of late. It is a great concept that has inevitably come about after an upward spiral toward almost out-of-control materialism. Bigger, better, more - that’s been the push for the yuppies, or hipsters, or whatever the most recent in vogue term is and a lot of us have bought into it. The advertisers love to spread this idea far and wide and often. We want better for our children, we say. Often that has translated to “we want our children to have more stuff than we had.” I don’t think we’ve done our children any favors. The move toward downsizing is also one that many times goes hand in hand with the desire to ditch the mortgage and the amount of dependence on things that tie us to expenses - utilities, for example.
There are folks who have grown weary of the materialism. It started quietly and is beginning to produce a bit more of a rumble. Recycling and reusing is a first step. Reducing is another. Using less electricity, water and other resources is something we are beginning to teach our children. Ascribing to alternative, more environmentally friendly energy sources is attracting the interest of more people. Constructing smaller homes (sometimes dubbed “tiny homes”) that require less space and energy is a movement that’s gaining momentum. Living more simply and downsizing - it is beginning to speak to a nation that’s grown weary of excess and its fallout.
I personally enjoy the interaction I have with other people. I am thankful for the protection of our military and the luxury of knowing that there are police officers and firefighters who are there for our protection as well. Being near medical care facilities is another luxury that some don’t think of as a luxury. Having access to running water and electricity is another thing we can take for granted as well. But I should not have to feel that I am doing something wrong if I choose to make some small contributions toward sustaining the environment. Why, other than greed or vanity, are people in some communities banned from doing something as simple as collecting rainwater in a few rain barrels? Why are there some cities that are not allowing tiny homes to be erected? Or that small animals such as rabbits or chickens cannot be kept? Even the freedom to plant a vegetable garden is revoked in some neighborhoods. Some of these are attributed to the excuse that they detract from aesthetics. This is a thinly veiled facade for greed - aesthetics have to do with the fact that some feel their “property values” are going to be affected and they’d command a smaller profit from the sale of their properties. I understand that people can choose not to live in these neighborhoods if they do not want to be under these rules, but large cities are rapidly encroaching upon the suburban areas. Where these things were once not an issue, they have begun to be one.
I am pleased to see that there are some urban communities who are turning abandoned properties into common garden areas for neighborhoods. These properties that were previously eyesores are turned into attractive, healthy food producing projects that bring the people of their neighborhoods together in their collective effort to create and grow. There are buildings who are allowing their rooftops to be converted into an oasis, encouraging the planting of both food producing and landscaping plants. Some cities are changing their restrictions and allowing small animals like rabbits and chickens to be raised within the city limits.
There are some good news stories, but they are not nearly as common as they should be. Too many places restrict these practices or are newly applying the restrictions. Another area of concern that I won’t go into much detail about here is the practice of large corporations who are able to patent seeds and disallow farmers to use any other. This is frightening and many people do not consider the ramifications that this will have. The control over food production is as frightening an issue as many of the news items being reported in the media.
Keeping our freedoms from being taken before they are gone is a task more easily accomplished than trying to get them back after it’s already happened.
Do you think that we're being regulated more than we should be? Or are those who are decrying the regulations victims of paranoia? How do you feel about these issues?