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Published:April 12th, 2012 14:33 EST
Members Only: Living on the edge

Members Only: Living on the edge

By Sean Stubblefield

"There is no one right way to live." Daniel Quinn, Ishmael   

Over the years, I`ve heard various people comment, If you don`t like it here (in America), why don`t you go somewhere else? "

Really?! Where do you suggest?

Despite the impractical and improbable logistics preventing most people from such a relocation "in any country, any place where civilization has spread seems like variations on a theme: One size fits all.

Even though not all people are the same, we insist on treating them as if they are.

We are not allowed or enabled to opt out. Our civilization cannot imagine why anyone would want to.

We are commonly told by our culture "directly and indirectly-- that there is only one right way to live. One right way to be. For instance, there is a major bias against introverts in favor of extroverts. And if you are in any way Autistic or not social, you are generally perceived as defective.

You either participate and engage or get discarded.

There is no culturally approved or arranged infrastructure available to sustain people who don`t want to play the game.

Resources and latitude are severely limited for those who live outside the system. And even if you can cheat the system, your options are still restricted and restrained, so as to avoid detection or evade detainment.

At least in the movie The Matrix, the computer world provided Zion as an alternative escape for the rebels. What do we have?

Our world is not designed to support or accommodate anyone who chooses to not play the game, or prefers to change the rules or play a different game. But even still, those who color outside the lines must manipulate and maneuver around and through that system.    

Those who are homeless "by circumstance or by choice" are forced to scrounge and hovel in the nooks and crannies of our society--- living in the periphery.

Get a job, live in a house, pay bills, go shopping, obey. This is what society expects and requires of us, in order to be included, and thereby supported. This is not the way humans must live, it is the way we have been culturally indoctrinated to believe we must live. But there have been and still are humans in the world who live differently "such as American Indians previously did, and primitive cultures in South America, Africa, India, Australia and some Arab peoples do now.

Most of us live this mainstreamed way because we know of no other way, because no alternative is given for legitimate consideration.

But are there no other choices? No other ways to live? Why?   

What are we to do when we can`t make a living with our skills and passion, because the market says they have no monetary value, or they cannot be sold? Or what if the market has no place for what you have to offer? We are fools to make our basic subsistence depend on a fickle and fallible market system.

Our lives and livelihoods should not hinge on how much money we have.

Most people don`t realize "don`t want to realize "how easy it is to become homeless. Or how incredibly difficult it is to BE homeless if you are not properly prepared or suited "particularly in an area lacking in sufficiently accessible resources.  I recently tried this, to see what it was like, so I know first hand.

Much of America is not considerate of the homeless, but I have a newfound appreciation and admiration for those who have the fortitude to endure this lifestyle, and stay sane in the absence of a certain or eventual way out of destitution.

Living paycheck to paycheck, I`ve teetered on that fine line a few times. It`s always a worrisome possibility, lurking at the fringe of my life--- and most other people`s lives. Even if they don`t know, even if they refuse to acknowledge, the discomforting chance hangs over many of us like the proverbial sword of Damocles.

Especially in a tenuous and tumultuous economy. Just by losing your job, you could lose your home, your possessions, maybe even your dignity. And that is not right.

Why does America "allegedly, though debatably, the greatest nation in the world-- provide no resources or framework to prevent this, or at least facilitate recovery?

A subculture of homeless people exist right under our feet, living in and moving between the cracks of our society. A few by choice, but most by unfortunate conditions beyond their control, and through no fault of theirs. Because our society has left them no recourse. Because our society has failed them.

They are as ostracized and belittled and undermined by our society as the gays and black people have been in our world.

Let us be clear on this point: they have not failed us. Our society has failed them. They are not failures; our society is, when it does not provide adequate means to sustain them. We need a new definition of failure that is not based on financial merit.

Those who live outside the accepted way of things "whether they are homeless or just in some way atypical--  are not doing it wrong, they are merely doing it differently. And we should let them do so, as long as they are not hurting or coercing anyone, and participation is voluntary.

Which is not to say that we should give them permission, since they do not need our permission. That is not ours to give. Live and let live.   

If we want to create a new world order, a new kind of society, there is nothing we can do--- nowhere we can go. We cannot simply go build a new country or community to suit our needs and ideals "there is no land left unclaimed for us to use. And even if we were to purchase land, we would still be within the confines of a particular nation... subjected to their laws and mores.

With the way things are, we would have to move to another planet or a star base for any possibility of self sufficient independence.

Therefore, it may be a good idea to improve how we think about the right way to live on this planet, in this world we inherently share.   

"Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you`ll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you`ll be tempted to say to the people around you, how can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?" Daniel Quinn, Ishmael