Reclaiming personal sovereignty in a nation with more people behind bars per capita than any other in the world, where personal freedoms by permission or permit are regulated for the safety and greater good of the masses, seems like a dangerous and violent call to revolution. It is not. It not an angry call to action, but a labor of love. It is a methodical and disciplined approach to providing for ones self and loved ones a quality and fullness of life that cannot be provided for us by any one person, program, or government mandate. Personal sovereignty is hard work and relies heavily on our willingness to learn how to promote mutually beneficial relationships with our landscape, to include the soils, the flora and fauna that supports us, and the rest of humanity. It is not only possible, it is being done.
For many, it starts with that first successful night in a Survival Shelter. For others, fire off the landscape fuels a passion to learn how to provide for themselves. Wild food harvesting is another engaging skill in the necessary components to stay alive without the fragile supports of consumerism. It may take years of effort and exploration, but a craft evolves and a bond with the landscape emerges. In the process of becoming self sufficient we develop a deep connection with the natural world. That bond not only provides us with shelter, water, fire, and food; it is the doorway to reclaiming our personal sovereignty.
In the time it takes us to learn how to survive and eventually flourish, we shift from becoming dependents of a corn syrup addiction, the insurance industry, and a mortgage to advocates for increased biodiversity, the protection and maintenance of wild places, and students of permaculture. We are aware of our needs and the importance of community. Barter, not debt, becomes the staple of mutually beneficial relationships. Most importantly, we develop our unique gifts and learn how these gifts benefit the community we live in. Hunters, foragers, soap makers, blacksmiths, wood cutters and weavers exchange with each other to get through the seasons. Ideas, techniques, and stories are as much a part of the exchange as the product of ones labor of love. Respect for self and others is based, not on the size of ones plasma screen, but in the relationships that are cultivated through integrity, resilience, and compassion.
This “romantic” notion isn’t the spouting of an ungrounded dreamer. It is the commentary of someone who experiences this level of interaction every day. Knowing that a house is a “want” and that an efficient shelter is a mere six hour investment of time and personal effort is more than “survival”, it is liberating. When you experience being warm, dry, and comfortable in a debris hut for more than ten days it changes you. This sense of personal sovereignty increases when you make a more permanent larger shelter based on native designs that will last for over a hundred years out of the same natural material. Now add to that the sustainable propagation of your own food and medicine and a connection to our grandparents through todays version of “victory gardens” and you begin to reclaim something that has been latent and part of our genetic memory since childhood. What started as an interest in survival and preparedness shifts from a fear based reaction to possible calamity into something more productive, sustainable, and, in the end, liberating. Reclaiming personal sovereignty includes developing personal skills, a degree of nature literacy, and an effort toward resilient community connections. It takes courage and effort to reclaim personal sovereignty; both essential first steps in cultivating a true land of the free for the home of the brave.