Do We Romanticize the Past?

I’ve found a group of fellow pagans who want to start a farm commune of their own, away from wider society. While I understand that sentiment, absolutely, I grew up in a rural ranching/farming community. I learned, through it and growing up listening to country music (written by and large from people from those same communities, so it’s a bit of a theme), that not every year is a good one. You can want to sustain yourself and then sell your goods to try and stay afloat. But one year you might not even have enough to feed everyone. (And then there’s the questionable matter of whether you will be strong-armed into selling your farm to some large company or another but I know we’re all trying to avoid that.)

The trouble is, I don’t see much besides optimism for the project, despite my above reservations. I don’t feel comfortable stating these anywhere related to the project, but they’ve got me thinking. Do we want to go back to a sort of “pre-Depression” lifestyle, living on a homestead in some unforgiving country trying to make ends meet with all generations in one home? Much as I dislike living in society, considering my “station” (and the fact that my dad drunk me into it), I don’t think I want to leave it. I certainly don’t want to go “back in time” to shitting in outhouses on the regular and wondering if it will rain enough or if the crop will get flooded out. (I don’t exactly have green thumbs.)

Maybe the answer isn’t to divide ourselves from society. Maybe the answer is to introduce a new way of living. I know, I know, sounds cheesy and over done by everyone from contactees to fake Tibetan monks to plastic shamans. However, one does not solve one’s problems by running away from them (unless those problems are abusive persons. In that case, run as far and as fast as you can). This is why people who say they aren’t going to vote catch a lot of flak.

We cannot try to create an Arcadia-like ideal little section of Earth where everything is perfect and everyone is happy. It’s naive, based in a poor understanding of how it was back then, and it solves little.

(And, I seem to recall learning quite a bit about communities in the early 1800s, during the Second Great Awakening: Groups followed preachers to some wilderness and built communes and other types of communities. Very few of those groups have survived to the present, Mormonism among them.)

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