The idea for this article came from a strawberry. You might very well wonder what a strawberry has to do with relationships, and you would be justified in asking.
Right now it’s June—the perfect time for harvesting plump, delicious berries from the garden or buying them from the local farmer’s market. It was while I was at the local farmer’s market this year that the thought occurred to me about the delicate balance that exists between a community, its people, and the world around us. Years of deficit spending by the government and the American people as a whole have upset this balance, but I believe that if we think this through and apply some basic principles of stewardship, we can tilt the balance back in our favor.
Let’s take a look at the strawberries I purchased the other day. If I’m not a gardener due to lack of time, desire, or color of thumb (mine tends to be black a lot of the time!), then what choice do I have but to purchase my berries from someone else? Even in this small area, my decision will affect the relationship I have with my neighbors, my body, and my family.
- By purchasing locally from a farmer’s market or food stand, I have positively impacted the economic landscape of where I live. I’m helping local people earn a livelihood and I’m keeping money flowing into the community instead of into the hands of some corporate giant. I have a stake in the well-being of a family I know.
- The relationship with my body is restored because I’m eating a healthy, locally grown product that hasn’t been subjected to the genetic altering and manipulation that commercial outfits employ to make their product more marketable. I’m not buying produce that was grown in Mexico in substandard conditions.
- The relationship with my family is strengthened when I buy local produce, when I provide a healthy food for them to consume, and when I ensure that their survival doesn’t have to depend on corporate America and Wal-Mart for their food supply. By utilizing local venders, I teach my children the importance of community and self-reliance. I teach them capitalism and expose them to the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great.
- I verify our part in the whole of God’s creation when I take my children to pick strawberries (or blueberries) from the local farm, when we experience at least part of the process of providing for ourselves. It’s an affirmation of the relationship between us, the earth, and the God who created it all.
We in the survivalist or prepper community are rugged individualists. However, there is only a small leap from independence to isolationism. We have to avoid the draw of pulling into ourselves. We have to avoid the temptation to put a wall between ourselves and the rest of the world. We were created for relationships, with our God and with one another. Even if that connectedness is through an online community such as this one, we must always stay connected. We are stronger together. We are better as a unified whole.
John Donne, the 17th English poet and Anglican priest said it best in his Meditation XVII:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…”
We will certainly face uncertainty and adversity in the days ahead. There may even come a time when the internet is shut down for political reasons. What we learn here, what we carry away into our daily lives may very well be the thing that allows us to continue or not. Each time I learn something, I increase my odds of survival. Each time I share knowledge, I insure the survival of another.
John Donne’s bell may indeed toll, but how I live my life in relationship to others determines whether it’s a death knell or a celebration of life.
Let us commit to celebrating life.