We have some guests (common this time of the year) and they (like others) have asked the question: “Why did you do this?” I answer differently each time but there is a common thread…”Well, I just got tired of the rat race….”
But ‘Tired of the rat race’ doesn’t really say it and so I add sentiments as my mood dictates and sometimes it is a rant against the ascending forces of greed and ugly that seems to dominate the news more and more these days. And sometimes I describe the more subtle but still ugly ways the systems we have embraced surround us in our daily lives. These systems include the gouging, cheating, stealing and violation for profit as you might expect from a capitalist system but they also include the more accepted forms of moral crimes from escalating real estate prices to fraudulent investment schemes from police that kill civilians to teachers being ‘locked out’ of schools.
I just keep seeing the systems we support as failing us. Especially government.
The BIG ugly seems to have succeeded at the trickle down effect where wealth distribution and common good have failed to. It all seemed so ugly to me that it came to be wrapped up in the phrase: ‘the rat race’.
Put another way: I don’t believe my government works on behalf of the people anymore. I really don’t believe corporations have a moral compass and I don’t believe they work for the people or the good of the planet either. I still have faith in individual people and the lower they are on the status chain, the more I find to sustain that faith. Poor people can be petty criminals to be sure but, generally speaking, all the people I have met all around the world have been – on the whole – decent and considerate of others. In the hoi polloi, I have faith. In the systems and the institutions, I have none.
And so we moved away.
“Surely you don’t think you are safe from the Big ugly, as you call it, simply by living remote?”
“No. No, I don’t. The Big ugly is quite capable of getting to me in ways I have yet to even imagine. I have a smart phone after all. It may, in fact, have me! I don’t trust it NOT to rat me out in some way some day. But I do think it will take them longer. People amassed in urban centres are so much easier to control, don’t you think? So much easier to influence. So much easier to intimidate. Anyone striving to live healthy and happy out here has much more of a chance to do so when they are not immersed and entangled in other’s systems.
“Of course, we are enmeshed in some systems still. I admit that freely. But we have fewer and they have less influence. We are freer. Of that I have no doubt.”
“So the rat race is not simply about making a living and doing so in a city?”
“No. Not at all. That part of the rat race is just boring at the worst, satisfying for some and positively rewarding for others. I do not hate that. That is the mouse race. To me, the rat race is a term that describes the bigger systems, the ones that require debt, interest, legal enforcement, jails, wealth and health inequality, pollution, rape of the planet and wars. They are enslaving. You know, that stuff of mankind that makes for fortunes, power, fear, loathing and many forms of perversions. The ones that trash the golden rule. The forces that generate and feed off of inequality.”
“Can you escape that out here?”
“Yes. To a large extent, yes. When you live remote and, by definition, rather minimally and simply, everyone you encounter is basically equal. And they are more independent and harder to round up. Less easily frightened. We have a tiny, minuscule footprint on the planet, few if anyone are ever cheated, the golden rule still rules for the most part. And, for the most part, it is the only rule. And we have some time to stop and smell the roses.
“We may be living in a fool’s paradise but it still feels like paradise to me.”