The Spirit of Self-Sufficiency

There seems to be a general consensus among people that times are hard and will likely get harder.  People are fearful and dissatisfied.  Some who are awake to the fragile nature of our world are frantically provisioning for all sorts of real and imagined calamities.  While it’s good to prepare, our best preparations are not in things.  They are in us.

This is illustrated in a book I finished just last evening.  Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini–a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero.  It tells of his horrendous suffering as a castaway on the Pacific and in Japanese POW camps, of deprivation, hatred, redemption and his resilient, unbroken spirit.  I awoke peacefully this morning thinking of a journal entry I made several years ago.  I had completely forgotten and was surprised to find a second notation about a dream I had where I too was an Olympic runner.  Funny how much the subconscious mind remembers and connects when all is lost to the conscious mind.  Here are some excerpts from my journal.

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3/24/2009 – Journal Entry

I have a new favorite scripture.

Philippians 4: 11-13
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

As our family read this passage, I was inspired by Paul’s strength and courage in a Roman prison – for 5 years.
We had a wonderful discussion about what it was that made Paul so strong in the face of deprivation of everything that normal people hold dear – especially his freedom. It strikes me that the last verse holds a key.
Paul asserts with infinite confidence that he can do all things. What caught my attention was the why and how of that strength. I noticed that in the King James Version it does not say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Instead, it says which strengthens me.  The antecedent that which refers to is doing through Christ.  By doing His will, acting on His eternally wise counsel, we are strengthened. Paul emphasizes an important part of that counsel when he says he has learned to be content in whatever state he finds himself.  In modern terms, “happiness is not in having what you want, it’s in wanting what you have”.

I am filled with His Spirit, His strength and His peace most, not when I am on my knees begging for it, but rather when I am doing my best to do and be as He counsels…. then I am strong, capable and confident that I can do, be and withstand all things. In those moments, a deep sense of peace distills upon me and I am happy regardless of what is going on around me.

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Some one hundred years ago it was determined that the average American had about 70 wants, things he desired to have. A similar survey was taken of his grandson and he had nearly 500 wants on his list and today, I’m sure that number is even higher. Why? Because people are not content in what they have!
(Joe Guglielmo)

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10/9/2009 – Journal Entry

In the past few months I haven’t thought much about this scripture.
Last night I had a strange, vivid, unusually coherent and powerful dream that seemed to last most of the night. I dreamed I was in the Olympics as a sprinter and surprisingly (as I dislike running and have no talent for it) won a medal. After the race, there was a great deal of pomp and confusion.  We were dressed in regal clothes with lots of patriotic emblems and medals representing our athletic accomplishments.  We were taken to special stores where we could buy more commemorative stuff and shuttled about for photo op’s and interviews. At one point the whole group was asked to think hard and come up with 100 short quips about goal setting that could inspire others.
In my dream, I came up with only one statement. It was “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.

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Paul was right.  Self-Sufficiency is not about physical preparation as much as it is about spiritual and mental preparation.  We must learn to be at peace, strong, contented in whatever state we find ourselves.   A wise man once said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”.  Prepare your state of mind by wanting less.

Surround yourself with Extraordinary People

What do you want to surround yourself with?
I wanted to write something for you about this, so I Googled “surround yourself with” and here is the advice that came up on the first page.

I agree.  I NEED to surround myself with the best, the extraordinary, so that I can become my best.  That’s easier said than done.  It takes work to attract and keep the best in your life, especially if you are looking for people who are better than you are.  I have spent the last five years of my life with that single-minded goal, to attract extraordinary people to the Village.  Our list of permanent residents is still small, but it includes people of extraordinary talents, skills, accomplishments, experiences and character traits.   To name a few, these highly accomplished people, all with post-graduate degrees in their field and stellar life accomplishments, include among their skills:  published philosopher and writer, chemist, plant geneticist, musician, Sr. business executive, successful entrepreneur, web developer, teacher, world travelers, electronics/communications expert, linguists, etc.  If you include those who have purchased land but have not yet built and moved in, the list becomes too long.  Overlaid on these skills are values of hard work, positive thinking, humility, mental toughness, creativity, generosity, mutual caring, independence, self-sufficiency and a strong desire to be part of a cohesive, sharing community.

Have you noticed that on my website, the request for information page includes a text box that asks an unusual question?  “Tell us a little about why you are interested in living in the Village on Sewanee Creek and what you would bring to the community as a neighbor.”  Do you know of ANY other developments where land is offered for sale, but applicants are asked to justify their contribution in terms other than dollars?

I don’t refer to myself as a “developer”.   My primary focus is building this community, so my business card says simply “founder”.  Unlike developers whose work focuses exclusively on subdividing, meeting government codes and selling, I actually live here and have different, vested, personal interests.  So I spend the bulk of my time blogging to attract extraordinary people, then interviewing and observing to understand whether they would be happy and contribute here.  When a person buys land in the Village, only a little of the value they are getting is in dirt, trees, creeks and a nice view.  They are buying years of my single-minded labor to assemble a community, a circle of extraordinary people.  For some, it is hard to recognize tangible dollar value in that.  Those who think the above quotes are only nice platitudes won’t join us in the Village.   They are unlikely to commit to the lifestyle we aspire to or even discover my website with its carefully crafted key search words.  And that is good.  We aren’t looking for average people who have money but don’t get it.

For those who strive to surround themselves with greatness, with people who will lift you higher, people who are like-minded, passionate, intelligent, creative and so on, to these the beautiful land is a nice incidental.

That Village residents understand and value this was recently demonstrated to me by one of them.  We were on an outing together to Nashville to see my favorite play, Les Miserable.  As we drove together I took the opportunity to discuss some community business.  I mentioned that property values in the Village have stayed significantly higher than any nearby as indicated by recent sales.  I sought their views on changes to the covenants because I want to make them as minimally restrictive as I can while maintaining the beauty, tranquility and productivity of the Village.  A Villager with two young children dismissed higher property values.  “Resale value is irrelevant to me”, he said.  “I plan to live here the rest of my life.”  Then he added, “I just want to be sure you will continue to be selective with the quality of my new neighbors.”  BTW, this young, extraordinary man is our post-graduate philosopher/writer/entrepreneur and I would say he gets it.

Bashing the Obama/Bush-Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Recently there was an Obama bashing post on “Friends of Sewanee Creek” our private website.  It was one of those chain emails that get mindlessly forwarded by people with a particular point of view.  Upon checking Snopes, it was found to be at least a partial fabrication.  No surprise.  One of the site members, a conservative, remarked that he was tired of the Obama bashing.

I responded:

I agree that the energy being expended toward “Obama or ANY bashing” is mis-directed. This is not to say that Obama deserves our admiration or support.  Only that the focus on Obama is a carefully manipulated distraction from the real issues.  Obama is a puppet.  So is congress. Both are dangerous to our liberty and to the peace of the world.

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The US government and virtually all governments are thoroughly
corrupt from the top down
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The global military-industrial-congressional complex are collectively the problem because
THEY ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER.

The global military-industrial-congressional complex are firmly in power because
THE PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER,
corrupt from the bottom up.

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Please re-read the statement between the bars and think about it.
It’s simple cause and effect.
No solutions will be evident without a clear understanding of the problem.

Whether overtly religious or not, few people practice Christ’s teachings of charity, love and service either on a personal level or national policy level . Hence, Republicans who are supposedly the party of the religious right continue to support aggressive war and imperialism under the false flag of democratizing the world. But if you listen carefully to their rhetoric you will find the real motives are based on self-preservation of our standard of living over the rest of the world – grass roots greed and power.

No single individual is to blame for the world’s problems. It is all of us together. Therefore, No form of bashing will accomplish anything but distraction from the real problem that lies in each individual heart.

I am convinced that we are now beyond the point of no return where political activism using the levers of democracy can be effective.  Hence, while I pay attention to the theater of politics for cues, I believe that our only salvation is in the moral character of individuals.

Never has the saying, “All politics is local” been more true. We must begin with personal morality and by that I do not mean sexual morality, although it is certainly included.  For an example of effective political action that can turn the tide, I look to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the writings of Henry David Thoreau and especially the example of Jesus Christ.  The most effective non-violent movements start by restoring moral judgment to a large, critical mass of the population.

Short of achieving such a mass conversion, the only solution is to work with converted, small, local communities.  If you can’t control the world, control yourself, then your personal environment. Perhaps if I prove to myself that I can discipline myself, then influence a small community, I can gradually regain the hope that leads to faith that leads to power, to change the world on a larger scale. That’s what Gandhi did. Until then, I have no right or reason to hope for anything better.

Ex-Pharma Rep comes clean, exposes industry corruption

This lady makes good sense.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of all the information on the web that points to evil, controlling, manipulative behavior that loosely falls under the category of “conspiracy theory”.

The thing that deludes people into thinking all this is just paranoia is the myth that all evil is somehow coordinated by a small group of evil doers at the top of a great pyramid of evil.  Then again, maybe organic pyramid structures are a naturally occurring phenomena.

Watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Isn’t it amazing that almost all of them nowadays are based on the simplistic story of a super hero pitted against an arch evil nemesis who is single-handedly out to control or destroy the world?  When we grow up, cartoons are relegated to the world of childhood fantasy along with anything that smacks of cartoonishness.  Out goes the baby with the bathwater.  Ergo, arch-villains don’t exist or are at least an aberration from the norm.  Humanity is basically good, so to think that the mass of people would cooperate in a massive evil scheme is… unthinkable.

I view this a little differently.  It has been my life experience that most people really care about one thing – getting ahead.  That boils down to two words, money and power with their derivatives (fame, beauty, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.)  I have made it a habit of evaluating motives by looking at where the feet are pointing – actions, not words.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics posited that there is an invisible hand that moves all mankind in a free market to make efficient choices in their own enlightened self-interest that furthers the good of all through general economic growth.  Having observed the nature of man in general, I suggest that Smith was absolutely correct, except that there are cumulative evil side effects of the invisible hand.  Selfish interests do not produce benign results in the long run.  The uncontrolled quest for wealth and power will ALWAYS lead to corruption.  Stated more succinctly, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

While almost everyone knows and acknowledges that couplet as fundamental truth, why is it then, that most people remain so optimistically blind to the fact that big, powerful institutions, with incredible consistency, have only one objective in mind, self-enrichment and empowerment at ANY cost?  The higher one rises within the pyramid, the more single-minded one is required to be in pursuit of the one and only god of money and power.  Those lower in the pyramid not having absolute power are corrupted, but not yet absolutely.

Once you recognize that as a fundamental fact in our fallen world, conspiracy is not a theory, it is the most routinely observable human behavior of all.  Conspiracy is a fact of life for everyone.  Everyone is scheming to get ahead.  Conspiracy is nothing more than the survival instinct on steroids.  Conspiracy is just normal individual human behavior with at least one accomplice.  To posit that conspiracy is only a theory or a symptom of paranoid crackpots is to deny that there is greed or evil in the world.

Since we are on the topic of pharmaceuticals relative to the most common of all human diseases, it seems appropriate to ask, “Is there an antidote?”

The answer is YES, but like many antidotes, it’s tough medicine.  Attempting to kick habits that are not only natural to the human condition, but encouraged by drug pushers masquerading as executives, politicians and officers is infinitely more difficult than kicking heroine cold turkey.  If you decide to make the attempt, you will need a good physician and a support group of loyal friends.

I have a recommendation:  There is a good doctor named Jesus Christ who wrote the book and operates a worldwide chain of clinics.  There are many alternative cures of varying efficacy  developed by prophets, philosophers, gurus and shamans around the world.  Some of them are also good.  At the core, the good ones all practice the same golden rules.  But, for my money, Dr. Christ, GD is the best.

There are also many local support groups.  I’m partial to a network forming at the Village on Sewanee Creek of reforming addicts.  As with all addicts, it’s a constant struggle to stay on the wagon, hence the need for a support group.  As a former senior executive, I can testify from personal experience.

AUSTERE but WITHOUT FEAR – A Message from Sendai, Japan

I lived in Japan for two years (1971-1972) and returned there many many times over the years on business. The Japanese people are amazing.  Since the morning I learned of the quakes and tsunami, I have been in touch with close Japanese friends via FaceBook and Twitter – glimpses of quiet, stoic courage.

A friend forwarded this letter to me this morning from a lady who lives there, but is apparently not Japanese by birth.  Her reflections on life in the aftermath describe what is happening there more fully, simply beautiful. Despite deprivations, this letter recounts people living even more richly than before – on a different level.  It’s amazing to think how different life experiences have prepared me to be where I am today.  To see what life can be, and hopefully will be like in the Village minus the calamities, read on.

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Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.

No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun.

People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains around Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently. And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all,
Anne

More background on Anne:  http://scribbler.ca/?p=192

Yesterday was a great day!

Our kids are home at the Village. 

Over the past few weeks we took an epic car trip from Tennessee to San Diego and back, stopping to see our older kids in Wichita and Mesa, Arizona along the way.  We met our son, Jonathan, who was finishing his truly epic 4,000 mile charity bicycle ride from Virginia Beach down the East Coast to Florida and across the USA to San Diego.  http://nuttyputtycyclers.com/updates

While in San Diego, we enjoyed seeing old friends and family and meeting new ones.  I downed the biggest burger of my life at Hodads in Ocean Beach and relived memories of my youth surfing.

On the return, we routed through Provo, Utah where we picked up our daughter from BYU and drove straight through, no stops, rotating drivers.

Whew!!!  We’re home.  We miraculously missed the Eastern severe cold and snow that happened while we were enjoying 85 degree weather in San Diego.  And, we dodged another bullet, returning home as Southern California is being drenched in record breaking rain.

Yesterday brought us all back down to earth as we were priviledged to help pass out huge boxes of food to the needy at the Grundy County Food Bank.  I had the best job, walking customers to their cars, pulling large carts bearing food and re-packing it into their cars.  It gave me the chance to listen to their stories.  One very elderly lady made my day when she told me how grateful she was to all the volunteers who made life possible for her.  Another younger woman with three kids had recently found housing.  She is a registered nurse who had been rendered homeless after a car accident that left her incapacitated, unable to work. 

As I worked, the thought occurred to me how wonderful is this country we live in!  Even where there is great poverty, I witnessed plenty, where great quantities of food were contributed from abundance by local merchants (including Walmart and many smaller contributors) and many local citizens turned out to assist in its distribution.  Each of some 300 families left with enough food for close to a month.  How wonderful!

There is still so much good in people and in the world.  My heart sang and my spirits were lifted.  Merry Christmas to all! 

Thanks to my dear wife, for getting us involved with the Food Bank.  She is the heart and soul of Christmas, not to mention my life.

My son is a wise goose!

This morning I giggled with joy to read my son’s BLOG and find that he has learned to be as wise as a flying goose.  He is making a cross-country charity bicycle ride for young widowed mothers and fathers with children.  You can read his BLOG at http://nuttyputtycyclers.com/general/oct-9-2010-flat-tires-tan-lines-and-shark-teeth-2

But first, let me explain why flying geese are so wise:

The Wisdom of Flying Geese

In the Spring, when you see geese heading North for the Summer or South in the Fall, flying along in “V” formation, it’s interesting to know what scientists have discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.

By flying in “V ” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

 Basic Truth #1– People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

Basic Truth #2– If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are heading in the same direction as we are.

When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

Basic Truth #3– It pays to take turns doing hard jobs, with people or with flying geese.

These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Basic Truth #4– We need to be careful what we say when we honk from behind.

Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.

Final Truth- If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other, protect one another and sometimes make new friends who seem to be going in our direction.”   http://www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/geese.html

We want to build a community of wise geese, here at the Village on Sewanee Creek.   Are you a wise goose?  If you think so, we’re recruiting!