I mentioned the book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture already this month but thought it deserved a more dedicated post. Reading this book brought me to a new understanding of how people everywhere are choosing to live their own lives in the wake of a culture that moves more and more towards consumerism. We are told to consume more stuff and how can we do that but to work and work constantly? Well we could use credit of course and many of us do but we all know where we end up eventually in that scenario.
This book tells the stories of people who have chosen to live differently. Consciously deciding that for them two or more cars, fancy houses and fast paced lives are not what fulfills them. Instead they adhere to the four tenants in the year 2000 document The Earth Charter which outlines principles for a sustainable way of life. Following these would support a life-serving economy rather than the exploitative one we have today:
1. Respect and care for the community of life
2. Ecological integrity
3. Social and economic justice
4. Democracy, nonviolence and peace
Shannon Hayes wrote this book in a way that gives the reader time to pause and reflect personal values while also relating or not to the many examples of American people living their version of Radical homemaking or what some are calling a return to homesteading. This is about re-learning skills that our ancestors used for survival but many of us have long since lost. Baking our own bread, fixing a leaky faucet, growing our food, making our own clothes, making our own entertainment...the list is endless.
"Healing our planet, our hearts and our bodies, bringing peace to our society, finding happiness, social justice and creative fulfillment, all begin by turning our attention first to our homes. But it does not end there. Reclaiming our domestic skills is the starting point; our continued happiness, creative fulfillment, and further healing of our society and planet requires that we look beyond the back door and push ourselves to achieve more. It is not enough to just go home and put down roots; we must also cultivate tendrils that reach out and bring society along with us."
Many of us misinterpret what being a homemaker today is. We think living in a modern world means that we have to strive for success in the sense of demanding careers, ladder climbing, and being busy to the point of hectic lives. There are many versions of being a homemaker, as many as there are people. But at its core the term is for those who see the value of life as being enjoyed in the little things: wholesome food, handmade gifts, knowing your neighbours, and supporting the causes that you believe in. This is not about perfection but connection, living and being present in our lives and not getting caught up in a culture that chews up and spits out many of us before we realize what's happening.