Monday, 15 December 2008

To Harp or Not to Harp

Earlier today I ready Sharon Astyk's predictions for 2009. If you've read her site at all you may recall that she was pretty bang on with her 2007 predictions, and today's post outlines that she was correct in most of her predictions for 2008 as well. She is the first to point out that she is not a soothsayer or psychic, and rightly so, but even when she's been off on a few details, the general gist of her predictions have been in the correct direction. All of this means that I pay reasonably close attention to what she's saying, evaluate it against what my experience is, and then decide if what she says seems reasonable and choose my actions accordingly. So far, I've been glad I've listened, because it's meant that I've curbed my spending in favor of debt reduction and the purchases I've made have been practical and with a view to their future utililty. Gord and I also weren't suprised by the speed or the degree of the downturn in the economy, since Sharon has been talking about this for a couple years now.

All this brings me to my current dilemma: how much do I harp to friends and family about this stuff? After all, part of why I started this blog was to have a place to put ideas "out there" without subjecting family and friends to these ideas ad infinitum. That being said, I do try to bring up the topic when it seems appropriate, but try not to go overboard and have every single conversation revolve around my apocalyptic angst and/or preparations for TEOTWAWKI. But more and more I feel I need to say: Plant a garden! Don't buy that! Store some food! Fix it or do without!

But also more and more I feel that I'm starting to sound crazed and desparate. The world situation seems to be worsening at an increasingly rapid pace, and so the things I mention can seem more extreme. I don't want to be written off by my family and friends as a nutcase who is taking things far too seriously, but yet I don't want to avoid saying something that might have been just the thing to kick-start their own preparations for a world that will be different. Not necessarily worse, but different. And these differences require some mental and physical preparations. A lot of preparations, actually.

So do I send family an email with a link to Sharon's predictions for 2009, or to Ilargi and Stonleigh's analysis of the financial situation? Or do I just keep planting, saving, storing, fixing and making do, and hoping it gets noticed and is enough? And from a Buddhist/Taoist point of view, how much of my ego is mixed in here? How much of my wanting to talk about these things is because I want to be seen as "right" or at least have people come over to my way of thinking? And why would something I say be "just the thing" anyway? I have no special communicative or pursuasive powers over and above anyone else.

So, to harp or not to harp: that is my question.


Heather @ SGF said...

Ooh. Hard to say. I'm the kind of person who lets my actions speak for me and then I answer questions as they are asked. There are lots of ways to let things ease into conversations though...

"So what have you been up to?" can lead into "well, I've been busy in the garden. You should see it now, it's so big and it's wonderful to be able to feed my family and feel safe in this economic climate..."

You know, nothing judgmental, just what's going on in your life and how excited you are about it. I think the enthusiasm is infectious. It may not change anyone's mind, but it is more likely to do so than preaching about it.

Mister Klean said...

Bravo, c'est un blog comme j'aime en voir.
Merci pour tout ce que vous faites pour la planète et continuons car elle en a bien besoin
Un français de passage

Theresa said...

Heather - enthusiasm wins over preaching definitely! I feel such a sense of urgency lately though, that I worry that just being enthusiastic and active is enough. It's hard to know what moment is the right moment to say something, and really hard (for me at least) to be patient and wait for that moment to arrive. I'm still pondering about it....

MK - Merci :) I think I have just enough high school French to understand most of that.

SoapBoxTech said...

I don't think that I could stop talking about this stuff even if I made a serious conscious effort to do so. I know the fact that I tend to avoid small talk turns some people off to what I talk about, but I guess I hope that at some point, something tweaks them to remember what was said and start to actually think about it, not just dismiss it.

Now, this isn't to say that I just go around ranting to everyone, trying to force my ideas and opinions down their throat. In truth, offline I tend to avoid a lot of conversation because I know most people can't get beyond rather vapid small talk, and because I know my perspective is a GREAT deal gloomier than that of most.

As for wanting to be "right", this is an area in which I have to really watch myself. Luckily (I guess...), considering my outlook on our future I actually do not want to be right at all. I hope that those who just kind of go along doing their thing, hoping that the "leaders" will keep everything ok, have been right all along.

SoapBoxTech said...

oh, I had meant to add...I blog for the same reasons, Theresa. On here I feel that at least those who come to my blog are looking for that sort of conversation.

I also wanted to say that I think you should keep talking. I know that what you want is to help people, not to be a big shot. I am sure that is the case in person as well, so talk on!!

Coll said...

Hi, I too struggle with whether or not to talk about this with my friends and family. I ventured a few months ago to express to some friends that I was concerned because we maybe reaching peak oil and that a depression in the near future seemed very likely. I stated that it would be a good thing if they could put aside some extra money and food if possible. They both looked rather shocked like I had grown an extra head. I told the computer saavy one about Sharon's site and then
let it go. A few weeks later one of the women told me she had been buying extra food and had put away some money. I was shocked but pleased. My family is very much orientated to being independent. Burning wood, gardening and canning being a large part of their lives so for them they were generally agreeing with me when I brought it up. I gave them a few preparedness ideas which they followed up on. I think for me I will keep trying to talk to people about it by sharing things you can do. Actions are sure cure for hopelessness. Theresa, I think that expressing your feelings and what you are choosing to do about these situations will show the world the light which you have to give them. Be strong, your knowledge and enthusiasm may well be someone's blessing.

Theresa said...

SBT - thanks for the encouragement :) I guess I want to communicate in a way that is actually received, and sometimes this isn't necesarily through words, or at least not words alone. Like most things, it's finding that elusive balance!

Coll - I know that 'extra head' look well! Part of my problem seems to be that I will sense a small opportunity to mention something and then go totally overboard with details - then I get the 'extra head' look.

I believe strongly too that action is a sure cure for hopelessness - thanks for that reminder :)

G. Harrison said...

hi theresa,

i enjoyed your comment [back at It Strikes] about knowing more about cars than gardening. i'm hoping that by trying my hand at a few rows of beans in the spring I will awaken the gardener within.

good puzzler in your current post; reminds me I come on too strong with my wife. a bit here and a bit there, with a sense of humour may work better than straight on - all the time.

heather's suggestion is a good one; and re mr. klean's words - moi aussi.

Theresa said...

Hi Gord; I think you will enjoy planting the beans. I planted some bush beans and they were just the coolest little plants: they come up early, have lovely flowers, produce prolifically, and have the most beautiful seeds when you let some of the pods ripen. And they make awesome pickles! I wish I had taken a picture of the few seeds I managed to collect before the frost came - they were a gorgeous mottled robin's egg blue. I'm definitely planting more of those this year!

About the coming on too strong, I had another reminder of the futility of that today - a good lesson for me. If only I would learn it!

Anonymous said...

Theresa - I've tagged you for GREEN MEME #1 - play along if you would like... info is on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard sometimes to keep quiet about how we prepared for this, because I don't want to seem like I'm bragging or a know-it-all. Mostly I'm just relieved that we went debt-free when we did, and of course happy that the market is free-falling right when we want to buy our first home. Overall I try to do as Heather says and live by example, answering questions as to why I have requested no plastic in our Xmas gifts, or why I don't have a housekeeper, etc.

Theresa said...

Thanks Alexah - that looks like fun!

Those are good points RA. I know when the stock market started falling fast, there was a time when I thought, Ok people will pay attention now and do some of these things. It's a very ambivalent place to be though, because I wish people's awareness would come without the hardships first, but for some reason humans just don't seem to do that. Not in general, anyway.

Kiashu said...

This comes back to that good old Theory of Anyway. If you have this big motivation for doing something that others don't believe in (global warming, risk of a Great Depression, war, etc), often it's a good idea to do it anyway.

Risk of recession/depression means you should be frugal, to have some spare money during that recession, and so that the decline isn't so painful a shock to you as it would be to many. But if there is no depression, well you saved heaps of money and can occasionally buy something big instead of needing debt for it. What was lost? Nothing. It's a good idea anyway.

Risk of collapse of oil supply with a resulting failure of the food distribution system means you should stock up on food and grow your own. If there's no collapse then you had some fun gardening and got to eat some nice organic fruit and vegetables and impress your friends with some nice meals, and you saved lots of money buying that bulk food. Nothing was lost, only gained. It was a good idea anyway.

And then there are disasters which are far short of systemic collapse but which your various preparations would help with. If you're stranded by floods then your stores mean nobody has to helicopter you out, they can save that for injured people. Nobody has to drop food to you, it lessens the pressure on the government disaster response if many of the people don't need help. And these sorts of disasters are much more likely than some kind of national or global collapse.

The corollary to The Theory of Anyway is that you only do the things which are good anyway, the things with multiple reasons for them. So for example if you think there'll be social collapse, a bunker in the woods with assault rifles and spam sounds great. But short of that dramatic collapse, the bunker is useless to you, entirely wasted time, effort and resources. So don't do that.

If you think your friends feel you are nutty, just explain the Theory of Anyway. Of course there'll be a few who still think it's pointless - the ones who have just lost their job but still buy a plasma screen tv on their credit card - but you can't hope to get along perfectly with everyone. :)

Theresa said...

Hi Kiashu - ya, the Theory of Anyway is my benchmark for doing (or not doing) most everything. I've even got it down as my #2 reason for being green in my Meme and Tag post today... Hands down, that rationale has been the best thing to say when people get all tied up arguing whether or not global climate change is 'real' - hardly anyone argues against the value of not wasting thing unnecessarily, especially in my family of Calvinist descent!