Go Beyond

Only read if you don't mind being offended.

Living by Example

I continue to wonder how I would raise a family, should I ever have one. I wonder what's important to me and what's truly necessary in life. I wonder this even not being certain if I will ever have a family. I guess it at least helps phrase the questions seriously enough to make them worth answering.

Let's say that I do end up having a family. And there's certain standards I'd like to set. The first person to live by them has to be me. If I can't pull it off, I can't expect anyone else to. Even if they might be more capable of it than myself, I feel it's wrong to encourage a lifestyle I'm not following.

I guess with too many standards, life loses its humanity and spontaneity. Too few, one is aimless. As for applying them, I would say the closer to you that you get, the higher the standards should be.

My minimum standard is honesty. I like everyone to be honest with me, and I try to be honest in return. Unfortunately, honesty is very much a relative thing and you can certainly find people that are mostly honest, but not completely honest. My internal measure of honesty mostly revolves around whether or not I'm willing to say things that do not put me in a good light. It's not hard to be honest about good things. It's the bad that are the actual challenge.

Beyond honesty, I have a number of beliefs I've picked up over the years. I don't completely know how much they are appropriate for a family to share. But, they've worked for me. I'm not at all an expert on all of these either, so this is something I'd like to grow into.

  1. Don't use something you don't know how to repair. I don't mean this to an absolute standard, having a fighting chance at fixing something is good enough to me. But using things you have no clue of how they work and no clue of how to fix is a recipe for unhappiness when you come to rely on them and they break. It's a liability. It's also living beyond your means to one degree or the other. I think this important because if I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her to be hunreds of miles from home when her car breaks down and she doesn't have the slightest clue how to fix it. Many of you might think how you can just call in a tow truck, etc. I would wonder if there's any cell coverage, if the world is just as peaceful then as it is today (I say this tongue-in-cheek), and if she might get hurt by someone claiming to help. Of course I should work with her to make sure the car is sound before such a journey. But I won't always be there and she must understand that.

  2. Be able to protect yourself. This is another case that comes down to "a fighting chance." Life is a gift, not a guarantee. And there's no guarantee that you can save your own life, or worse, someone who you love. But at least being able to have a reasonable chance at saving your life is crucial. If you don't even have that, do you value your life at all? You may hope the police or someone strong and good will be around to save you, but that won't always be the case. For most people, their best options are pepper spray and/or a handgun. Being a better shot than the average thug isn't that difficult. Carrying a gun every waking hour isn't trivial, but isn't that hard, either. And if everyone did it, the world would be a safer place (just look at Idaho.)

  3. Be able to live in harmony with nature. This is probably the point I do the least. It bothers me on many levels that I've not lived for even days by my own means. I should know how to garden, how to hunt, how to raise goats, chickens, etc. I should also know how to build a cabin in the woods and do this all without power, living as people did quite well a couple hundred years ago. Ted Kaczynski describes "Surrogate Activities," the things you do because you're not providing for your own existence in nature, by yourself or among a small community. I don't even know what that actually looks like. This bothers me philosophically, environmentally, and from a risk standpoint as if society crumbles and I have to head for the mountains, I might not be able to survive. Obviously, it's an uncomfortable existence and you probably don't live as long, but at least knowing what it's like and being capable seems essential for me as a human being. Just as one's biological purpose is to reproduce, one's natural purpose has to be to live within the natural bounds of your the mind, body, and environment. And don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting someone to do this in the desert if their ancestors were not from the desert. But I should be able to do this in the mountains of Idaho. If not, I feel I am a failed human. Just like an animal that can only live off the feed it is given. I know neither how to hunt nor how to chew the cud. I don't know if society will support the same comfortable existence it has given me for my children. I doubt my hypothetical kids nor wife (nor even myself) would enjoy living without running water, but at the same time nature seems to give back in other ways when you embrace it so maybe it wouldn't be quite as bad. Maybe it would be a gradual thing, maybe a couple years, maybe the skills could be learned independently of eachother, or maybe it would feel like a homesteading life makes sense for a lifetime. Time will tell.

  4. Work hard and do what needs doing, but don't live to work. I think having a good attitude about work is essential. I've seen people who live to work and derive meaning from the work itself and not life itself. I appreciate Mike Rowe's view that there's no such thing as a bad job. Of course there are better jobs and you can work your way up to those, but it's the mindest I appreciate. I also don't think it's healthy to work to no end, for no real purpose, and to never stop and smell the roses.

  5. Be frugal. You have to know your financial limitations. If you are not living solely in the natural world, finances are the checks and balances of your own life. You have to plan for dry seasons and capture the rain when you least expect it. In my view, you spend time either to make money or to save money. The most effective system is typically if the husband is working to make money and the wife is working to save money. You should know how long you can live for without work and save up towards purchases that will help you spend less and less.

I don't want to pass on much, but I would like to obtain land to pass on. Historically, families would pass on land or a viable homestead from generation to generation. Now I have to play catch up on something my ancestors already attained (and gave up). I don't think college is valuable, nor consumer goods. Giving someone money just enables them to spend it without knowing how to spend it wisely. But land you can work and live off of is both security and purpose.

And I guess, elaborating on the standards, should I have any kids I'd like my girls to meet the minimum standard of the boys and the boys to meet the minimum standard of the girls. My boys would know how to cook and clean (and thus would appreciate it all the more should someone do it for them), my girls would know how frustrating it is trying to get a vehicle to start on the side of the road, and appreciate when their husband does that for them. But their ultimate specialization would be up to them. The natural differences in men and women will also show up. Men are almost always stronger and tend to have more focus. Women are weaker and more able to keep up with many things going on when raising children. And regardless of that, some division of labor helps. But each should be able to do the other's job to some degree or the other, even if not as well.

Maybe these ideas are crazy. Regardless, seems I cannot do this without a wife who is not also setting the same example. It's not right to raise kids with ideas that the parents are not doing themselves. Children will always pick up on what you do more than what you say. They may pick up on neither, but they will certainly notice the discrepancies first and probably better than you will see them.

Thanks for reading.