Saturday, 13 September 2008

This family know what life would be like without reliance on oil!

In fact they are living in deprivation because they don’t have a car... television... telephone... fridge... freezer...washing machine... central heating or air conditioning and their house is not insulated. Their diet is restricted due to circumstances and is mainly vegetables much of which they grow themselves in their garden and the small boy has yet to taste butter as they only have margarine. They walk or use public transport when they go out together and the yearly family holiday is a day trip to the coast, about 50 miles away, by coach.

The father cycles the five miles to work if the weather is good and uses the bus when it rains, when there is snow and the bus does not run he wraps sack around his feet and walks to work.

And they are amazingly happy because they have time...

Do you remember what it was like when there was time, time to enjoy each other’s company, time for talking and time for walking, time to read and time for your friends, family and community?

The five year old in the photo, which was taken in 1950 when food rationing was still on, is me.

So often we think that life without all our present day luxuries would be unbearable when in fact, from my personal experience, the opposite was the truth. So often we look at the problems that we face but these do nothing to inform us of what is possible and what life could be. We are an amazingly creative species and I am honestly excited about the challenges that are before us, yes life will change and it may not be at all easy, but in the end it may well change for the better.


Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Thank you, Fr. Peter, for your encouraging words on my blog. I really appreciate that.

And thank you for keeping me so well informed about the state of the planet, too!

Kati said...

Wow, Peter..... It's so neat of you to share these pictures of yourself, and the stories from your past, with us. This is what I find inspiring about the Depression Era and WW2 in American history, and WW2 and the years immediately following in British history..... The fact is that while things were tight, INCREDIBLY tight in many cases, folks didn't give up. And they didn't view themselves as overly set-upon, or unfortunate. It seems that a great many figured that they were fortunate indeed simply to be alive and have food at all, and clothing on their backs, and somewhat more rarely in many cases, shoes on their feet and a job to do every day, a purpose for their lives. We have become spoiled, these years since. That realization makes me ashamed sometimes, esp. knowing that I don't always have the strength of will to do something about my usage of the excesses around me. I'm willing to try, in some cases (making clothes for myself and my fam, cooking from scratch and gardening for some of our produce), but even so..... I'm spoiled enough I'm not yet willing to give up a daily hot shower & shampoo. *wry smile*

Thanks for reminding us, yet again, of the important things in life, Peter! Blessings!

homebrewlibrarian said...

Interesting how 15 years can make such a difference. When I was five years old in 1964, we had all the things you did not have. My father drove to work because we lived in tract housing in what used to be rolling pasture. We didn't have a vegetable garden although I dimly remember a neighbor having one.

While I and my sisters were too young to notice much, my mother was miserable the three years we lived in Pennsylvania. She was far from family and friends and with my father's salary, we weren't able to go anywhere. It was a relief to her to return to Florida when my father got work there.

Nevertheless, we zoomed right into the American dream of owning a house with a yard, all the modern appliances, two (and then three) cars and several car trips a year to visit Florida family and play in fresh water springs and rivers. We were not wealthy, my mother was a coupon queen and I learned how to manage money with the very small allowance I was given (I had to want something a whole lot because I'd only get $.10 and when I became teenaged $.25 a week). But we could drive to the grocery and the library and places in between. I was even allowed to drive to school in my senior year of high school (the car did not belong to me but I could drive to school in it. Every thing else had to be at the pleasure of my parents).

And now I'm close to what you had growing up. I own a car but drive it very infrequently - I'll bike, walk or bus it instead. I don't own a tv and there is no washer or dryer in my unit (I share with the owner and have stopped using the dryer). No air conditioning (not really necessary in Alaska) and the insulation in this place is adequate (I helped pay for new windows for the two lower level units in exchange for rent). All of us living here have participated in vegetable gardening with more planned for next year.

If anything, I'm really trying to live the life you had as a five year old. Plus chickens if the local government approves the backyard animal regulations. I'm not missing all the stuff that seems to define someone who has "made it" and have enjoyed learning about gardening, handcrafts and simplifying my life in general.

The question remains, can those of us used to a certain consumptive lifestyle be willing to live with less whether by choice or necessity? You're proof that life can be enjoyable with less. Let's hope others take that example to heart.

Thanks for sharing!

Kerri in AK

Rowena from Forest Row said...

Thank you for directing me to your excellent blog - I am enjoying its scope and perspective.... This is an interesting slant on the concerns of the transition town movement which I know you are linked into and a gentle reminder that we are not far in years, if in lifestyle, from your childhood. Have you seen the WIs film 'A life without Jam'? I highly recommend it (it may be in your blog earlier....)