Via Rev. Paul, we're led to a superb sermon-stroke-rant by Curmudgeon With A Gun about "The Foundational Principle of Self-Reliance".
A lot of talk floats around the blogosphere about preparation for the looming economic and (God forbid) political collapse. Most of that talk focuses on trading your worthless paper dollars for something of value, particularly gold and/or silver. A lot of it is geared toward resistance to tyranny in various forms. A lot of people are talking about going "off-grid." My wife and I started working ten years ago on the path to self-reliance.
I should be clear in my definition of self-reliance: nobody can be completely self-reliant, unless they're willing to live an extremely bare-bones existence. As much as I hate to sound like the Abominable Pantsuit, it does "take a village" to live any kind of life higher in quality than that of a caveman's existence. Some specialization is a good thing: I'm good at making wine, and my neighbor is a gifted mechanic... that's just begging for future barter.
With that realization in mind, we still sought to minimize our reliance on other people as much as possible; furthermore, we are determined to limit our reliance on the System in favor of relying on trusted friends and neighbors. This requires the long-term development of a trusted network of like-minded people, folks you are reasonably certain will be there for you when it hits the fan. This is not something you can come up with overnight; trust must be earned. This, however, is another topic, perhaps for another time.
The subject of this post is self-reliance. I don't have a lot of deep thoughts on the subject, but I've spent ten years working on it, and I want to share what we believe is the foundational principle of self-reliance: you cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave. This has many practical corollaries, and here are a few:
1. You cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave to debt.
First and foremost, you must focus as much as you can on getting out of debt. Do not, for one moment, believe that there is such a thing as "good" debt. That's a comforting lie that masters tell their slaves to keep them in voluntary slavery. The slaves themselves repeat the mantra to try to soothe their guilty conscience for willingly selling their liberty. It's very simple: there is no good debt; there is only debt, and debt is slavery. If you owe a man money, that man owns your time.
2. You cannot be self-reliant if you are a slave to a consumer mentality.
If you are addicted to buying new toys every chance you get, you need to break yourself of that mindset. Alaskans are particularly vulnerable in this regard: every year, we get a permanent fund dividend, and there's a huge spike in sales for 40-inch HD televisions, four wheelers, etc. If you're serious about self-reliance, that money should be invested wisely, not flushed down the toilet. As long as you slavishly worship at the altar of All Things Apple or Arctic Cat, you can forget self-reliance. Consumerism is designed to keep you enslaved to the system.
3. You cannot be self-reliant if you are lazy.
Sloth is one of the classical deadly sins for a reason: back in the good old days, sloth could quite literally be a deadly characteristic. If you didn't work, you might not eat. The same is true now for most of the world, but in America, we all live like spoiled princes and princesses. Men don't work hard; we sit behind a desk and twiddle our thumbs and get paid obscene amounts of money for it. Women don't work hard; they pop something in the microwave and "dinner" is ready to be eaten in front of the television in a few minutes. Self-reliance presupposes at least the willingness to try to overcome your laziness. You can't kill a moose and expect someone else to field dress it. You can't buy a cow and expect it to feed itself and milk itself. A garden won't plant itself, weed itself, and harvest itself.
There's much more at the link. Excellent stuff! The man knows whereof he speaks.
(BTW - note the actual URL of his blog. I like his sense of humor!)