What Choices Do We Really Have?

I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

People’s “choices” are completely dependent and attached to their circumstances. We have been sold the ridiculous idea that we have “control” and we are the “owners of our choices and our future”. This goes hand-by-hand with the idea that says we are “the chosen” (species, culture, group…) and with the idea of individualism and self-sufficiency, as if we could make decisions with no impact on others or being affected by others…

I have been reading articles, listening to presentations and talking to many people in my role as a career counsellor: how do people transition from enslaving, abusive, unsustainable or just plain boring job that steals their health, dreams, energy and even their human rights and pollutes the environment or perpetuates a system that makes other species and/or human beings being enslave, abused, etc.?

That is something not only I want to do myself (not that my job is like that, but it would be much better if I could dedicate more of my time to do other, more fulfilling, necessary activities, some much better aligned with my values)…this is something I want to dedicate enough time to help others to achieve: beyond overwhelming paperwork, policies and guidelines, one-on-one or in groups of really committed people.

What bothers me is that all these courses, articles and speakers I check in order to help with this task come from the assumption that all people have equal choices in front of them. That everybody’s right is to dream and go for it; that the only thing people need to do is to set a goal, plan, put more effort and have priorities and then things will happen…but nothing is farther from truth.

These assumptions and blindness towards reality create the opposite they are intended: they create resistance, guilt, and feelings of being inappropriate and less than others (the “successful ones”)

Most people in the world work not to fulfill somebody else’s dreams or to pay for luxuries: most people in the world work because they have no other choice: they have no access to land, tools or resources, many don’t have access to real education (and those who do, may have access to a boxed education that prepares them for a “career” but never for a self-reliant life where they can really support themselves and their loved ones). Our society has stripped people from the right even a cockroach has (and nothing wrong with cockroaches): the right to settle in a piece of land, build a shelter and get their own food, either by hunting, gathering or practicing horticulture…

It is easy to say that we don’t need jobs or that we should leave our jobs and become self-sufficient. The challenge remains: how do you live, eat, cover yourself and support a family then?

Personal financial advisors make similar assumptions: they constantly remind us that we should brown bag our lunches (seriously?), that we shouldn’t spend that much money in signature coffee everyday (who does?) and that we should make a budget and stop going out for dinner every week…

People who are seriously in debt may (some) have over-consumption issues (i.e. buying stuff they don’t need, buying houses bigger than what is necessary, unsustainable lifestyles and behaviours)…but there are many out there who are in debt because they are paid way below what they deserve, or because things are truly expensive, or because they had to max out their credit cards to pay for an education, support a family member or pay for medical bills…

On the other hand, I have seen people who are “looking for a job” or trying to open their own business but they don’t follow any of the advices that are freely provided to them through websites, seminars, books, workshops and personal coaching…

And yes, there are those who have no idea what a budget is or how to live within their means…

My point is, we have much more people enslaved (bad jobs, unemployment or debt) not because they are unskilled, lazy, crazy or stupid. We have this situation because long time ago somebody came and said “this is my land, my tool, my resource” and put a price on it. We have this problem because somebody, sometime after, came with the “brilliant” idea of creating things that can’t be repaired or break faster than they should, the idea of credit and the idea of producing all far from communities: this forced both communities and individuals to work so they can pay the ones who have the key to those resources, tools, land and products and services.

Nobody longer has the skills and means to completely support themselves, we need others to exchange goods and services, give and receive love and support.

Those who are young, healthy and were raised in middle-class families, wealthy countries, have more chances to become “self-reliant” (as opposed to self-sufficient).

Those who have disposable income are the only ones able to pay off debts and cut on expenses.

Next time somebody comes to you and tries to trick you into feeling guilty or inappropriate, check what they do and waht is their agenda.

Because the only choice we have is to change as a society, not only to reduce consumption, pay off debt and create or find better ways to use our time while supporting our needs, but to free everyone else from that type of slavery, not by making them feel stupid or guilty, but making them aware of what the matrix is made of, and helping them to cut the strings…

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!”

~ Bob Marley





About Silvia TIC

Welcome to these exercises inside the dimensions of what we are: we are what we dream and think and feel, but we are also the different characters we perform, not just the roles (mother, wife, friend), but those things we call “occupations” or “earning a life”. More than anything, we are part of a giant ecosystem and all what we do connects and impacts others (people, animals, plants, air, water...)

Posted on June 11, 2014, in Activism, Balance Work and Life, Career Development and Job Search, Career Planning, Community Building, Community Resilience, Debt Management, Empowering, Energy Descent Action Plan, Financial Independence, Future Scenarios, Gift Economy, Holistic Goals, Immigrant Integration and Settlement, Independence, Job Search, Jobs, Life Choices, New Economy, No Waste Living, People's Power, Reflections on an unsustainable world, Resilience, Resilient Living and Choices, Right Livelihood, Sharing Economy, Simply Living, Social Justice, Stereotypes, Sustainable Living. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on What Choices Do We Really Have?.

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