Society forms for a few basic and long-necessary reasons; protection, reproduction and cooperation being the obvious big three.
We derive some sense of security in numbers. It’s kinda primal. Our group vs the other one. Bloods vs Crips. America vs Russia, et al. That kind of thing. It may even be more primal than that, tracing it’s roots back to schools of fish, flocks of birds or herds of animals. The risk to the individual is made less by being surrounded by so many just-as-vulnerable others. Playing the odds is still our primary go-to method for achieving safety.
Reproduction, it seems, is well-served by diversity and there is obviously more diversity in numbers. If a potential father has little to offer, he stands a better chance of finding a little-to-offer but willing mother in a large crowd. We are more like rats than bees in that regard. God bless the gene pool.
And cooperation is the magic that humans bring to the equation more than any other species. An antelope may increase their chance to reproduce or be protected because of the herd but antelope don’t share grass. No handsome antelope sidles up to a real pronghorn cutie with a bunch of prairie grass in his mouth to ‘help out’. Even domesticated animals don’t share food very much.
But we do.
We have the magic of sharing, cooperation, specialization and even the systems to distribute it all. Not only that, we have complicated production and we have even more complicated systems to get it to others around the world. Animals generally don’t. Some insects do to some extent. But they are generally less egalitarian than we are and definitely more single-minded. Ours is a major leap in the complexity of life.
And, for a long time – maybe the last few hundred years – we have become increasingly more complex, more interdependent, more dependent, more specialized and more vulnerable to the fortunes and mishaps of the group than ever before. In fact, the modern person is, for the most part, incapable of surviving alone. Even the intrepid, well-equipped and skilled couple would likely perish living completely isolated fr any length of time. Modern mankind needs modern mankind.
But what happens when modern mankind starts to develop lemming-like tendencies? What happens when the larger mass of humanity encounters the hard-to-see virulent disease of the microscopic invader? Or, what if the complex and relied on life-style of the many is actually self-destructive? Even worse, what if it is environmentally destructive? What then?
Well, the answer for the most part, is that previous survivor groups simply moved on. Nomads having herds of goats or camels would overgraze an area and then move on to do their destructive practices elsewhere. Easter Islanders, on the other hand, had nowhere to go. They perished. Moving away to another place worked so long as there weren’t too many eaters and the main victim was fast growing grass. Seven billion people make a much larger and more complex destructive impact and, with few exceptions, there are not a lot of places to go to next. Not for 7 billion, anyway.
But there is a bright spot. It’s OTG.
Even though 7 billion people can seemingly destroy the environment for everyone (or so it is currently postulated) the fact is that the seven billion have, like lemmings, run to the epicentre of the problem. They are gathering in cities. It is, in my view, dystopic. Suicidal.
What might look like on the surface as protection (grouping) and cooperation (complex systems) is, in fact, more like a concentration of the species for exploitation. That exploitation may come in the form of disparate economics thus nullifying the benefits of cooperation or it may come in the form of an easier-to-spread contagion. Viruses do better in cities.
If any of the above was actually true, then a species intent on survival would cause to create contrarians. Geneticists call them mutants. Psychologists call them deviants. Popular society calls them rebels and I tend to ascribe the term free radicals. Basically, it is a term for those who refuse the Kool Aid. Those who choose a different path.
It’s a form of diversification, not putting all your eggs in one basket. In a sense, it is as inherent to survival as is the gene pool. Sending out ‘runners’ is a survival technique.
And there is no question in my mind that OTG’ers self describe as survivors. They may not use that term because they are not constantly faced with threat but, scratch the surface and you hear and see survival skills being developed. They are like the ship sent into space to colonize another world except they just leave the overpopulated area and colonize another world off the grid.
There is no question that mankind is a social animal. But there is an equal founding principle for man’s survival through adaptability. Adaptability and group-think are not mutually exclusive but they do tend to show up that way. Those who go along to get along are group thinkers as a rule. Those who chaff in the cul de sac are looking for alternatives. They have to be more adaptable as a result.
“Dave, what’s your point?”
“Well, If you don’t have a ticket on Virgin Space Travel or are a preferred guest of Elon Musk, then the next best place to move on to is a remote island NOT near you.”
Who might be the lemmings? Well placed folks are selling their single family homes for 2.5 million or more in Vancouver. According to the papers these vendors with 2.5 million in their jeans are worried that they might not be able to buy a condo in their preferred neighbourhood. They might need to move to New Westminster where the average house price according to the papers is around $450,000! Or perhaps some place like Chilliwack. The urge to cash-in has some lemming like features as indicated by the activity in the hot Vancouver market. The lemmings potentially will come from the millennial demographic group who crave the light footprint but have little equity in real estate.
The lemmings are all those who gather in collectives. It has nothing really to do with being a rich or poor lemming. It is just inclusive of those who wish to act and live in large collectives. Nothing wrong with that if the collective works. And it has for many. But the collective is vulnerable to different things than are the individuals OTG. Mind you, OTG’ers are vulnerable in other ways. The blog is about survival paths and OTG is just one less chosen.
I remember speaking to the President of a very large Life Insurance at a snooty company dinner one time. I had no idea who he was at the time but I knew he was from “Head Office” and was someone “up there” since everyone was avoiding him like the plague. I didnt care who he was and jumped right in.
We talked about golf, vacations, etc. The usual chit chat with someone you dont really know. Thats when it dawned on me he was “El Presidente” and we got a good laugh over that!
Then I decided to ask him questions about the whole idea of Life Insurance and why one company was any different than another if the shit hit the fan.
He smiled and said , “Essentially, if the whole world goes to Hell and everyone is dying and we have to pay out billions in policiy claims….we want to be the last company left standing….”
We went on to talk about how he started at the company ( in the mail room 45 years previous and he HATED it) and then the boot lickers started swarming around and I begged off. He ended up buying me a very good scotch later in the evening. A nice guy. He died of cancer a year after he retired.
Where am I going with this?
Some people pray for armageddon, some people dread it. Some people say the living will envy the dead. I dont know.
Living in a city of 3 million people during any type of crisis will be a real eye opener. Political correctness and fair play will last about as long as the gas stations have fuel and Safeway has food……after that ……The Law of the Jungle will prevail.
Living OTG will be safer but i think it will just delay the inevitable.
Whetehr its a slow motion “meltdown” ( financial, virus,whatever) or another stupid war( South China Sea ring a bell?)
When the proverbial poo hit the fan……..
“Survivors” of whatever happens with boats or trucks or planes will be looking at remote places with envy.
Im not sure if anywhere is “safe”.
Hopefully I’m safely esconced on a self sufficient farm with about a years supply of fuel……….
My gawd…….Im turning into a survivalist……… 😦
I agree. No path is guaranteed. But my point is that a successful and surviving species trait most likely includes the contrarians, the ones who choose differently. They may just die quicker but, by spreading the lifestyles around, the species has a better chance. I think contrariness is a survival trait. Mind you. 68- year olds won’t be adding too many robust genes to the surviving pool but we’re good sources of information at the very least and could be regarded in a reproductive pinch like heritage seeds….?
Your chosen lifestyle is deeply amired and a source of inspiration. After many years spent living remotely in various places through out BC the attraction of your situation is clear. Ourb family had a battery operated radio that had some reception at night. Many interesting places to visit trapper’s cabins, fur brigade trails and run down homesteads. No junk food, twenty-one feet of snow each winter, on a very poorly maintained gravel road. No hydro, no telephone, no school, and very few other children and impoverished parents. At the time BC was in a very deep recession and the choice was to try living very modestly.
Thank-you for that but we are not worthy of much praise. Not really. We live well. It is not hard. The ocean moderates our environs. Frankly, I have never had it so good. I often say I live in heaven with an angel….who cooks! I grew up rat-poor in the city and THAT was often difficult, dangerous and depressing. This is, at times, a bit physically challenging but even that is good for us. THIS is good. Seriously – the only praise we deserve is in making the decision. After that….? A walk in the park.
I grew up in an area of the Crips and Bloods. Made us think twice about where we wanted to hang out on a Friday night (well, just a little bit). Then I spent my career life working in the East Los Angeles area where Mexican gangs were prevalent. I was happy in the city during that time of my life, but knew I wanted something very different when retirement came. My grandparents were farmers, and my mother grew up in a home without electricity until her teens. Maybe some of their thinking rubbed off on me or I absorbed it through osmosis. Who knows. Now is my time to enjoy OTG. I could stay in our float cabin all the time, but hubby loves to travel, at least for now. I feel like I have one foot in OTG and the other waving around aimlessly. Guess there could be worse ways to live.
Yeah, me, too…kinda…13 different schools before graduation…all bad parts of town. Maybe it’s having lived in the dysfunctional side of the city that makes OTG so attractive? Living in the deep ugly makes the forest even more beautiful. I dunno. But I admit that your little Lilly-pad like garden home looks like a vision of Eden. That has to be by choice and so you are choosing beautiful over ugly. Primal in my books.