–by Miki Kashtan (Mayo 31, 2018)
I introduced the idea of stepping off the line we all live on, where most of us are constantly trying to get ahead, and described the value I see in aiming to step off the line and what we can gain by doing it: reclaiming our freedom to choose for ourselves, from within, aligned with our deepest needs and values, and reconnecting with our place in the vast web of interdependence. […]
In contemplating action, I move beyond the internal reality of my mind and heart and into engaging with the world as it exists now. This means doing the necessary work to be able to face the inevitable consequences of stepping out of line. We need courage to work towards a vision, not just passion.
Depending on where you live, what your age, race, gender, or nationality are, how much money you or your family have, and a host of other factors, taking action beyond your most private thoughts and consciousness carries very different risks. Your actions tell others – in word or in deed – that you dis-identify with the line.[…]
To the extent made possible by our courage and by others who will offer their backing and support, we can then walk our way towards dis-identifying with the mindset of “the line.” The point is to align personal choices with our vision, and show ourselves and others that it is possible to dis-identify with the line and to have a rich and satisfying life even as we live with ongoing friction with the world and at far lower consumption rates than the aspired-to “norm.”
For myself, I haven’t found anything that I can do that directly addresses the existence of the line. For the longest time, this has been a source of immense despair for me. And then, very recently, I came across this article by Charles Eisenstein, which left me with two clear insights. One is the recognition that the drive to scale is, itself, part of the same mindset that the line lives in. The other is an extension of what I’ve been working with for a while already: we don’t know what action has which impact. At least temporarily, my despair has lifted and is now replaced with curiosity and humility.
This grounds for me the clarity that what I have is a path, not a destination. It’s a clear practice that provides both solace and guidance: I aim, in every moment, as closely as I can bring myself, to choose as if the world I want already exists. As this relates to the line, since I want a world based on needs and not on an abstract line and the constant “more” and “not enough” mentality, I keep coming back to some basic questions:
How much is enough? Clearly, if we go back 200 years, what most of us reading this have now is obscenely beyond enough. Clearly, our idea of enough is affected by the structure of our culture. That’s why the question makes sense. How do I know what is a need and what is a habit fed by the culture? I keep checking again and again: is there any place that I can reduce my level of perceived need and still be satisfied with less? How can I consume less?
What do I do with any resources that are freed up? Our cultural ethos says that if we have more, our “task” is to enjoy it, “save” it, or give it to our family. I want to ask beyond this: How do I distribute the resources I have on the basis of need rather than merit or fairness or self-protection? How do I use the resources I have in support of the values and vision that fuel my work?
Repeatedly asking these questions supports me in focusing on my values rather than the embedded values of the line. On the individual scale at which we ultimately operate, nothing could be more subversive. […]
As we deepen our exploration and experimentation, the status quo continues to exert influence to sustain itself. I find it essential for growing capacity to step away from the line, to continue to seek and integrate information about what is going on, what led us to here, what is possible, and what people with similar visions to mine are already doing to make that vision a reality. Since this vision, for me, is about caring for everyone and all that is, my practice also includes finding a way, ultimately, to embrace all that is sufficiently to be able to orchestrate an alternative. This is no small task given how much horror I find in the world as it is. Regardless, I don’t see how fighting against the current of life will get us where we want to go.
All along the way, (and especially whenever you imagine that you are “done”), you can continue to review your consciousness to see what else you find that is a reflection of your unconscious training rather than your choice. Because of how long patriarchy and its offspring have been in place, their external and internalized influence are deep, and it’s likely that you will need to iterate many times rather than doing it once and being “done.”