About a week ago I wrote a post about communism, but I never posted it. I always fear things will be inflammatory, and that is not my goal. I’m really going for thought provoking, not inflammatory.
For the last week my wife and I have been looking at permaculture principles and thinking of the future of our farm. And as we consider the aspects of the farm that we really enjoy and those that we tolerate, we like the principle of permaculture.
The idea of permaculture is that rather than tilling up large patches of land and keeping it weeded in order to grow your selected crops, you pattern your land after a forest and you select plants that go well together and just let them go. So instead of weeding, you plant clover and other nitrogen fixing ‘weeds’ as a ground cover along with larger plants that grow something you want (like autumn olive, which also fixes nitrogen), and you put all that under an apple tree. The point is that you follow the patterns of nature with different layers of planting and in combinations that work together to support one another.
It is like a communist garden. All of the plants have to give something in order for all of them to survive. OK, maybe that’s not the greatest metaphor for communism, but I have been thinking a lot about the prefix ‘comm’. It seems to be in words where everything is brought together and then divided out equally.
One of the main reasons I wanted to write about this is because communism is looked down upon so much, but having lived in a communal living situation, I don’t think people really understand it well. While I am completely against government mandated, ruthless dictator communism, I found communal living to be a wonderful experience. Putting all of your physical efforts together into a pot and then removing them together to benefit from the fruits of your labors. Beyond spending lots of time with people, you recognize that others really depend on you, and you really depend on them. It is a beautiful thing. Even in a situation where we had some major differences with the others in the commune, it was a beautiful thing.
When I worked at the Y, we did some market research to see what people really felt they were lacking in life. By far, the top answer was ‘community’. While there is a trend in the popularity of self-sufficiency, what people really want (me included) is community. Shortly after creating this website, I recognized that self-sufficiency isn’t really possible. We will always rely on others for things and if we don’t, we are really missing out on an important part of life.
As I thought about this topic, I thought of some other words that really emphasize the beauty of coming together. Communication could be seen as putting ideas together with other people and then having everyone take away a new set of ideas. The only way communication really works is if all parties involved are willing to put their ideas into the ‘pot’ and also willing to take all of the ideas out of the pot to gain a new, fuller set of ideas. Often, communication doesn’t happen like that because someone (or everyone) is unwilling to share or receive ideas.
Another word that came to mind was communion. Although it goes by different names, Christian churches have a communion that believers eat. It symbolizes the person putting all of their assets and liabilities into a proverbial pot along with all of Jesus’ assets (and he doesn’t have liabilities). As the belief goes, it enables people to give their sins to Jesus.
Putting your efforts and ideas together with a group of others and relying on others as they rely on you is an amazing experience and what deep relationships are made of. While we don’t need a ruthless dictator, we do need to include many principles of communism in our lives in order really experience life.