Better Life

06 Apr 2014 10:47 AM |Alison Buehler

I just got back from an incredible weekend in Meridian. Go Green Meridian, a chapter ofGaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi hosted the 5th Annual Sustainable Living Conference: Growing Health, Sustaining Wellness. The conference brought up three thoughts for me. 

First, it confirmed our family's move toward sustainable living. This eight year journey is moving us in the right direction. Living on a Modern Homestead with pigs and chickens, trying to grow our own food, and find natural living solutions feels a bit lonely at times. We are odd ducks! Being among an entire conference of people who know how important these shifts are affirms our our beliefs about what it takes to make a good life. 

Second, it is a good life. In fact, I have to say, it is abetter life. I am a huge believer in the fact that you cannot change someone's mind by arguing with them. Most answers are grey. But there are some things that we have to begin making judgements on without feeling like radical outliers. Buying food locally or growing it yourself is betterthan buying food that is shipped around the world. Eating naturally grown food is better than eating food sprayed with poison. Using less energy to support our lifestyles is better than imagining our grandchildren will use science to find a way out of the very precarious situation we are dumping on them. Finding natural health solutions in our own kitchens, gardens, and activities is better than relying on an industrialized health care system. Promoting small, upstart, local cottage industry is better than upholding outdated legislation that impedes its progress. Rather than denying that some practices are better than others, we need to begin to admit that even though we know this, we often choose options we know are not as good for our health, our children, or our futures.

Third, there are several ways to face the changes that are not coming, but already unfolding in Mississippi and the rest of the world. The realities of an overpopulated world with not enough resources to sustain all of us is here. One way to face it is with curiosity, as Semper Sarah, the keynote speaker said, and faith. Another is with fear. Another is with apathy. Finally, we can approach these challenges with a fix it mentality (think Bono and Bill Gates). There are the preppers who want to bunker down and protect their own. There are the hopeful who embrace the possibilities of a future that doesn't look very much like the present, but holds the potential to look a lot better. There are the majority of us who will do nothing, change nothing, and/or walk around unaware or unwilling to admit change is inevitable. There are a few who believe they can beat the odds by sheer force of will, enough resources, enough faith, or enough science.

I'm sure we all fall a little into each category. But what are the implications of our choices? What unintended consequences will facing a future fearfully result in? What unexpected outcomes happen when you believe you can fix a broken world single handedly? What happens when you decide to leave it up to God? What repercussions are possible if we head into a future naively? Does our frame of mind have consequences? What frame of mind is the better choice? Am I helping my kids more if I impress on them Pollyanna dreams or stone cold realities? Do I want to spend my life in blissful ignorance or an oftentimes painful awareness? I waiver on my responses to these questions. 

The one thing I have recently come to believe, is that we cannot fix a world until we fix ourselves. We are the broken part of the world. It isn't out there somewhere. It is right here. So today I will go and feed the pigs and chickens. I'll feed my family a salad from the garden instead of eating fast food. Maybe I'll take time to pray or meditate. I might even go for a walk if it doesn't rain. And I will try to believe that these small choices, these small changes, will have big impact. I know their impact would be even bigger if you joined me.