3.04.2009

the disconnect

When we arrived to the farm, one of the first things us R2R students did was to split into pairs and get to know each other. We discussed where we were from, what events brought us here, and what we expect to get out of the program. As my partner Dez and I were chatting, I started to realize, on a general level, why I came here. I became aware of my own desires. Specifically, a desire for connection.

There is so much disconnection in modern society, especially modern Western culture. There is a terrible lack of communication and education from generation to generation, so much so that we treat the elders of our society as a great burden with little to offer. Movies make jokes about old people that don't have any idea what's really going on while their 11-year-old grandchild text messages their friends using horrifying acronyms that butcher the very existence of grammatical rules in the English language.

This very example is what I mean by disconnect. Kids today are disconnected from the English language. They "use" it and communicate with it and write with it, but they barely understand how words are actually spelled, how to form a complete sentence, or how to write without emoticons.

I came here to reconnect. I realized that the things that my ancestors discovered, realized, used, and loved were lost to me. I barely had simple survival skills, let alone farming, building, and cooking skills. Not even electrical skills. Nobody likes a guy with no skills.

I wanted to close that generation gap and reclaim the things that are my rights as a human. To make fire, to grow food, to build shelter, to drink clean water, to eat natural, beautiful food. I didn't want to be removed anymore.

Many people today are completely removed from their food. They buy it, prepare it, love it, and eat it, but they have no idea what came before that. They don't understand the whole process. I want to be a part of the whole process, or at least know about the whole process.

Same goes with my faith. I want to be a part of the whole process. I don't just want to be on the receiving end of some divine light that miraculously shines on me and gives me good graces. I want to know Him.

Now, of course, this isn't necessary. It might actually be easier to go through life ignorant about everything. We humans are pretty good at ignoring things that make us have to get up off of our lay-z-boy. They do say "ignorance is bliss," right? Bullshit. Ignorance is a fleeting, artificial bliss that breeds cowardice and laziness.

So, though it may not be necessary by the world's standards, this reconnection is very necessary by life's standards. It is so easy to start a fire by pulling out your bic lighter and today's newspaper, but have you ever started a fire with nothing but a few sticks you found in the woods? It may take you all day, but when you get that dust to coalesce, and you carefully burn tender to get a flame, it is the most rewarding thing. You were part of the whole process. You were living.

I'll end with a line from one of my favorite Switchfoot songs:
"We've got information in the information age,
but do we know what life is outside of our convenient Lexus cages?"

3 comments:

Ethan said...

I am so glad you wrote this. I agree with everything you just said - especially about the disconnection between humans in America and their past, eachother, what they eat, the language, and expressly, God.

Your hunger reveals my own - to be more of an addition to this Earth than a subtraction, to live with Christ legitimately as the best friend I have, who I know because he first knew ME deeply.

I can't wait to see you again broski.

Audrey said...

right on brother. thanks for this post. it's a hard balance. old people aren't wise anymore, they're annoying and laughable. that's just sad. it's funny the words "reconnect" and "disconnect." we generally think that "disconnecting" would be what you're doing right now...secluded from society so to speak, not connected with the modern world. And "connecting" would be being a part of technology and stuff. but there are different forms of connecting and disconnecting. are text messaging, for example, and facebook another form of connecting, or disconnecting? woo, crazy!
love you.

Jessie said...

Ben,

This is well-written. I believe most of the disconnect has come as technology has increased. Granny Happy was born in 1895 and was great at communicating. She was a great story teller because she grew up without the electric trappings that keep us disconnected. She also ate fresh from her farm. I loved going into her vegetable garden and picking something to prepare for the meal. No wonder she lived to be 106!

Love ya