Friday, April 1, 2016

Normal and Natural

Western culture is neither normal nor natural.

Normal and natural are the relatively calm, low-level elements of existence, things just one step up from nothing and that persist as people come and go, as animals and plants live and spread, and as the years pass. It's durable, right up until when things change.

As recently as a century ago, most of us were farmers, and we had skills.  We could grow our own food, tend our own herds, manage our own homes for warmth and water and cooking.  We could build a barn or fix a roof if we needed to.  Today, however, we're specialized.

As our civilization became more complex, we spawned specializations to enhance our productivity.  Assemblers and installers, builders and bankers, paper pushers and plumbers, truckers and tech specialists.  It's a trade-off.  If a techie wants a potato, it's a trade with some potato corporation via a couple of intermediaries and transporters, and 'money' is the exchange medium.  If anything went wrong, the techie would likely have to do without.

With increasing complexity and interdependence, we've added a measure of fragility to our civilization.  Most modern folks wouldn't know what to do if the electricity went off for a month or two.  Or if the water supply shut down.  Or if gasoline supplies were temporarily exhausted.  Again.

So should we position ourselves differently?  Should we prep for change? Should we broaden our skills?  What would be a good mix?  And should our children prepare differently for life perhaps than we did?

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