Imagine you are on a deserted island with a few other survivors after a shipwreck. As a group, you need to organize so you can survive. You have limited resources on land and among yourselves. You would need to share your skills in various areas in order to get to the shore of safety. Each one of you can play an important role in ensuring the survival of the group. Now ask yourself, if you were part of this group, what essential role would you play? What would you do that no one else can do? What can you offer to the group so that it survives?
While intellectuals in online forums contemplate an apocalypse or a technological singularity, and New Age gurus claim the coming age of transcendence and the promise of unified consciousness, everyday families worry about their survival. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we witnessed the interruption of the supply chain (that is, the shipwreck). We witnessed people losing their source of income and experiencing the resulting financial hardship. We witnessed people going back to the basics of life, learning to do things from scratch such as cooking, washing clothes, giving haircuts, gardening – you name it!
We learned how to eat well to stay healthy and decrease our chances of getting sick. We learned how to take care of non-life-threatening emergencies. We took responsibility for educating and teaching our children. We learned that, at least for a short time, we could break the addictive cycle of consumerism. We were simply forced to take care of ourselves and our families, to warm up to the idea of self-sufficiency. The pandemic brought us the gift of learning and realizing an important truth: we are fully responsible for our own lives, and we have the freedom and power to shape our life the way that works best for ourselves, our children, and our communities for the long term.
As for myself and my family, we stocked food like everyone else. We took the necessary precautions. We cooked every day. We learned how to cope with the crisis while wishing for things to go back to normal. Yet deep inside of me, I knew that things were not going to go back to normal. I knew that life as we know it is ceasing to exist and that we are emerging into a new space where we can no longer trust the systems that have provided the means of our survival. I now know that it’s time for us to take our power back and begin to rethink how we live as modern-day humans.
I asked myself, what if all the systems that make up the supply chain collapse due to a pandemic, climate change, or sociopolitical unrest? What if we lose our economic viability as a country? What if the healthcare and educational systems fail us? Will my children have the necessary skills to survive? Do we currently have the needed resources to have control over our food sources? Can we ensure our family’s financial viability in the future? Can we manage a household that uses sustainable resources and help reduce our carbon footprint? Can we practice emergency medicine when needed? Do we have access to natural and reliable sources of water, energy, and food?
At this time of so much darkness in the world, I want to share a dream of mine. I envision humans living in sustainable communities, cultivating their land, caring for one another while their relationship with themselves, nature, and God is restored. Imagine humans having total control and freedom over their meeting their own needs and ensuring their own well-being while they are empowered to bring forth a nature-driven civilization. Today, I embark on a journey of a lifetime with the commitment to discover a new life, one of freedom, ease, and collective resilience. I want myself and my family to learn all the skills necessary for our survival and welfare. I want those skills to be taught to my children and grandchildren. I want us to take responsibility for our life and know that we can create sustainable and healthy communities that allow us to experience happiness in connection while harmoniously cultivating the earth’s resources.
The future of humanity hinges on our ability to practice our God-given freedom to choose the life we want for ourselves and for our children. We have the right to a healthy and happy life that we create through mutual care and resilience. As Wendell Berry said, “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” The pandemic has provided us with all the facts we need to witness the shift in the world while sitting with the unease of what could be in the future. In that space, I invite you to make an empowered choice today for yourself and your loved ones. I invite you to join me in moving toward the greatest resilience and freedom possible.
I am starting a movement called Vine Communities that enables communities and families to learn the skills necessary to local reliance, preparedness, and mutual aid. This program will empower individuals and communities through a series of online challenges to envision their five-year sustainability plan and work toward achieving it. Over time, we hope that the program will create a life-skill sharing platform that educates adults, youth, and children to activate their creativity and begin the journey toward local interdependence. Skills such as setting up systems of resource sharing, energy and water conservation, permaculture practices, household management, financial management, food preservation, healthcare and emergency medicine will be taught to all community members.
Each community will be driven by a set of shared values and belief systems:
The earth calls for our return to enhance and sustain its natural systems rather than take away from it or destroy it. As we witness the current state of our economic, political, social, and agricultural systems, we realize that there’s work to be done. We realize that we must take our power back and begin to take charge of our life; no one will do it for us. As the path extends further ahead of us, we realize that our children need to gain the skills necessary to survive hardship and be able to adapt and deal with extreme situations should that be required in their future. Our lives are hanging on a thread that is currently tied to man-made systems. We have the power and the ability to tie the thread to the ever-regenerating and giving earth and begin to heal its land while it gives back to us, to our children, and to our grandchildren. I would like to invite you to join our community and start the journey that will last generations to come.
Eiman Al Zaabi