Making a living basically means figuring out a way to exchange with others and the earth in order to keep food in the stomach and a roof overhead - working to stay alive. Now imagine a world in which we all did work that resonated with our very souls. No internal conflict, no external conflict. People everywhere simply experiencing what we might call "Right Livelihood" in alignment with the greater good.
Unfortunately, too much focus on "the job market" lends itself to the tail wagging the dog. Too many of us get lured into "good" jobs before we even know what our personal values are. We then follow "the dream" of acquiring any number of things that epitomize so-called success. All too often, our acquisitions have been purchased with borrowed money accruing interest. We then stick with our "good" jobs to pay for the things and interest even when our very souls are gradually being sucked away from us, eight hours a day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year.
With no modern day version of a vision quest for young people, we need something else in our most vulnerable years to help us determine what really gets us out of bed in the morning. If we have no choice but to live in a specialist society, it makes sense to pay attention to our innate styles and preferences - where we get energized, how we gather data and information, how we evaluate information and make decisions, and which of these latter two we're more inclined to do. In doing so, we show respect for ourselves as we go about the business of striving to survive.
Building community encompasses everything from choosing a life partner, to starting a cooperative venture, to forming an ecovillage. We bring other people into our lives with the assumption we'll be making decisions and sharing some kind of space together. Novelty is bathed in fresh energy and optimism, all resulting in feelings of falling in love.
But the honeymoon eventually comes to an end, leaving real people to challenge our nerves. We settle from the heady states of newfound love, come to our senses, and find the work of maintaining community not so attractive. As we get caught up in inevitable interpersonal conflict, the exit door starts to look all too enticing. But then throwing in the towel comes with its own set of consequences.
With few tools in place to remind us of how everyone's strengths can benefit community, and with even fewer tools to shed light on how we inadvertently manage to keep pushing each other's buttons, we need something else to help us increase interpersonal intelligence. By definition, we are social creatures, and it makes sense to pay attention to how our individual traits, language, and motivations fundamentally play out in relationship. In doing so, we show respect for ourselves and others as we go about the business of striving to hive.
Securing the future means representing the best interests of those who will follow us. It depends on enjoying a sense of relative communal good fortune sufficient enough to want it to continue, often with improvements. It pertains to everything from bringing another human being into the world to getting serious about achieving environmental sustainability goals. It's all about our ability to plan for a tomorrow that protects and holds dear what we value today.
But there are no diplomas, certifications, or licensing necessary for most of the really important things we do - jobs like parenting and stewarding our ecologic future. Add to that the fact we all live downwind and downstream (in more ways than one). At times, it appears we're all just winging it, trying to keep our heads above water as the unintended consequences of modern technology couple with more historic modes of losing our way. At times, life seems mostly unpredictable.
With no rulebook for taking care of one generation, much less seven, we need something else to help us heal past hurts and nurture present and future health. Alongside science, it makes sense to pay attention to both wisdom traditions and modern psychology in order to create an overall culture capable of perpetuating bioregional human communities with some degree of economic, ecologic, and spiritual integrity intact. In doing so, we show respect for ourselves, others, and the environment at large as we go about the business of striving to thrive.