I am wealthy in a way that doesn’t depend on stock markets, cryptocurrency or having assets that are considered valuable. I can’t afford a Tesla, or even a brand-new car. I’m wealthy in a way that was the metric of wealth for millennia. My wealth comes from having a safe place to live, and I expect that I will for the rest of my life, barring natural disasters. I have a stable food supply that I cultivate myself, with pretty good certainty that it will continue throughout my life. I still rely on food from farmers markets and grocery stores, but if I had to, I could live without them. That, to me, is real wealth.
We’ve used many different measures of wealth in our history. Stones, tea, and shells have all been used as currency. Tulip bulbs were a sign of wealth in the 1630’s, and are said to be the first recorded speculative bubble. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania
Do you know which commodity has had at least some value in every crisis, collapse or disaster? Food. Access to food can make or break entire civilizations. What we consider a sign of wealth has changed many times over the years, but in every case, access to abundant amounts of high-quality food denoted wealth. Being fat as an indicator that you had access to plenty of food has been a sign of wealth in many cultures throughout history.
Now, most of us have no idea where our food comes from, or how it was grown. We have given up the responsibility for feeding ourselves in exchange for luxuries that we quickly tire of. In the space of just a couple of generations, we have become dependent on systems that we think are infallible. What if they aren’t?
How did we get here? I am old enough to remember when credit cards first began. We shifted from a save and buy to a buy then pay society. We began to think in terms of monthly payment instead of total financial health. It created generations of people who based their thinking on the wants of today instead of the total picture of their long-term financial health and goals. We did the same thing on a planetary basis.
We started looking at the resources of our planet on a “what can we spend now” basis without looking at the long term. Now, just like the person who bought whatever they could afford on a monthly basis without looking at the long term, we are faced with reality.
I am saying that poverty is a result of poor choices. Poverty is a complex issue driven by numerous systemic issues that we have failed to address. The planetary crisis that we face is also driven by many of the same factors. Individually or collectively, making decisions based on the present situation without thought for the longer term is a disaster.
People use the term “sustainable” a lot. Do we really understand what it means when we say something is unsustainable? Many people see sustainability as a goal for the planet, but don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what happens when we don’t reach that goal. Something that is unsustainable will end. Completely. Hard Stop.
I’ve experienced a full stop financially a few times in my younger days. No money meant no food, and it was a hard stop until I could get money. We don’t fully know what a hard stop looks like for the planet. Resources are not infinite and the systems that we have created to help us get around planetary limits are not infallible. Sooner or later, in some way or another, we will face a full stop in our lifetimes, unless we make some changes.
Easy credit is responsible for a lot of the consumerism that we see. Cheap stuff bought on impulse, and left to litter landfills. Stressed people buying things to make them feel temporarily better but adding to their total burden. If we can stop things at this level, we can do a lot of good for ourselves. We are caught in a downward spiral, globally. The likelihood of vital systems that we rely on experiencing disruptions is high. But opportunities to make changes for yourself still abound. When the world seems to go crazy, community, connection and local resilience gives us stable ground to stand on.
So, what do we do? Many people remain in denial because it seems so unbelievable. Planets and populations only fail in the movies, and the heroes come in at the last possible moment to save the day. In this case, we are the heroes.
As we come into the holiday season, the epitome of excess in the U.S., it’s a great time to look at what we really value. How wealthy are you? How wealthy will you be if things change and systems break down?
The way we move forward is to shore up our foundations. Take life back to the basics. What are your priorities? Food, clothing and shelter are what we all need on a physical level. There is enough clothing on the planet to clothe us all, so food and shelter are primary here.
There is a deep sense of security in knowing that, no matter what, you can take care of yourself and your family and friends. That is why I grow a lot of my own food. Wherever you are, if you can begin to grow some of your own food, you are on your way to true wealth.
For more information on how and why you can grow your own food, please read my book, Your Food is Your Future, available on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qYL3Tb