|“If you have come to help me,
you are wasting your time.
But, if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
–Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland, AustraliaGiving Up
Whenever I hear people speak about creating a healthier, more sustainable world, the talk always turns to what we all must give up. When people decide that they want to change the way they eat, it often becomes about what they must give up. I believe that there are a number of factors that effect our perception of an experience. One factor that I think is absolutely tied into this is the ability to choose rather than being told what to do. The experience of deprivation versus liberation is really about the experience of feeling in control versus out of control.
Recently, I went to live on a boat with my family for a month. That experience left me feeling liberated not deprived. We had no electronics, very little space, no temperature control, very little stuff, no car, etc. But, it made me feel fuller not emptier. Deprivation has a conotation of feeling unsatisfied, liberation feels incredibly satisfying!
Some wild unschooled children, Xoe, Dylan, Griffin, and Deven
Also recently, I attended the North East Unschooling Conference. Unschooling is a philosophy of life which includes home-schooling, experiential education, and egalitarian living. click here for more definitions of unschooling We have unschooled our children and ourselves for all of our children’s lives. Many people cannot conceive of homeschooling never mind unschooling. People often say to me. “Oh, I could never do that”; or “I wish I could do that”; or “how do you do it? I would go crazy spending that much time with my kids!”. Well all I can say is, I would go crazy if I had to put my kids on the bus everyday. It really is a matter of choice. We, as a family, feel liberated by our choice to travel, and experience life the way we do. I personally don’t feel deprived that I don’t have more “personal time” while my kids are in school. My kids don’t feel deprived at all but you’d have to talk with them to learn more. Feel free to ask any one who knows my kids, like Elliott, Julie, or Carol, if they seem deprived.
At this conference, there was one of my favorite speakers, Peter Gray PhD. He is a professor of psychology at Boston College, studies children’s play and has written extensively on this subject. more on Peter Gray The lecture I went to was called,The Decline of Play and The Rise in Mental Illness in Children. He spoke about a number of incredibly fascinating things, but one really caught my attention. He talked about kids (and adults) who feel a lack of control over their lives are more inclined towards depression and anxiety, which I connect with feelings of deprivation. Those who feel in control of their lives are more likely to feel that they can make choices, feel empowered, and therefore feel liberated when making those choices.
“I Couldn’t Give up Cheese.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I would love to be vegan but I couldn’t give up cheese.” I totally understand, I mean, damn, cheese is delicious. I tried to go vegan many time earlier in my life but never succeeded because I felt deprived. I did it out of guilt, not out of choice. Finally, one day, I made the decision to do it and I felt liberated. I can’t completely explain how and why it changed, but what I can say is, it feels very different. Many times, people will say to me, “Oh, you can’t eat that”, when referring to pizza or something. I always reply, “I can eat whatever I want, I just chose not to eat that.” That, in a nutshell, is the difference between feeling deprived and liberated.
Stir It Up
I am sure this post will stir up some energetic ideas which I would love to hear. I believe that feeling in control also means thinking about and questioning everything. Being empowered means understanding and believing in what we do. I don’t expect anyone to think exactly the same things that I do but I do expect and hope for people to think more. As always, I would love to hear from you. Peace, Mimi