"The point is we should not expect top-down solutions to our problems. And blaming "them" (pick your "them" and add your favorite "ism") isn't going to get you anywhere, except perhaps self-destruction. Or a job on today's cable TV "news".This is definitely what I was getting at. While it can be absorbing and interesting trying to isolate how we got into our current messes as a society, ultimately determining whether the republicans, democrats, feminists, blacks, whites, illegals, Boomers, X-ers, G.I.s, corporations, or socialists are most to blame is not going to be of real help to the individual or the family during hard times. It would be far more useful to pursue the two-fold strategy of increasing both self-sufficiency and strengthening community bonds. None of the above in aggregate will be there to save us in crisis. They don't care about you. They don't care about me. The only people who do care are the people around us whom we cultivate as friends, neighbors, and family. We all need to make more of those connections because they will provide strength and shelter.
If you go back to your 4th Turning posts and the best characteristics of our (Gen-X) generation, it is the ability to dig deep, be tough and be pragmatic. When they say "surrender", we say "Nuts."
We need to focus on ignoring government (until we clean out the Boomers) and building communities -- on-line, with neighbors, whomever. And finding ways to live on less and celebrating the freedom of frugality."
I've talked before about developing your own skills. Knowing how to make and fix things is important not just because it makes you more self-reliant or because it will save you money, but because it gives you something to trade in informal negotiations and makes you a more valuable person to know. We have lost so much knowledge of how to do basic things. It's a sad thing to admit, but I basically taught myself to cook in the last three or four years. I believe I have a pretty workable repertoire of foods I can competently prepare now, and my husband is quite happy with my progress, but the fact remains that I am no chef. Compared to the average 1940s housewife, I'm a a novice. Since very few women now cook, however, my efforts look nothing short of miraculous to my husband's coworkers who marvel over the stuff I send in his daily lunchbox. I've also noticed that good food predisposes people to feel more positively about you. I'm not above using that if I have to in the future.
I've also given away "free samples" of my other skills to my neighbors. I babysit for free occasionally. I blow out the snow from the sidewalks on either side of my own. I share the produce in my garden when it gets prolific. I also wave and talk to the people in my little area and try to build community in small ways. I do this because I was taught to do so by my parents but also because when your city significantly cuts back on its police force as mine did a year ago, it's a good idea to know the people around you. They can help keep an eye on your house when you're gone. They would be the ones to form a neighborhood watch to stop a rising tide of crime. And they're the ones you'd swap stuff and skills for when money gets tight.
As I mentioned before, we all have to prepare for our standard of living to decline as wages continue on their downward slide. But that doesn't have to mean things cannot be done and we must lie around helpless. Rather it means we will not be able to pay strangers to do them with disposable income. Several of my neighbors have chains saws and could probably be persuaded to help me cut down a branch that comes down in a future storm - if they know me enough to care and if I've got something to trade either now or later. This giving and taking of free labor is what was previously known as community, and it worked well for thousands of years. It is both cheaper and more expensive that what we've been doing. We abandoned it because it requires more than money. Communities expect things of their members. They judge when people are lazy or do not conform to community standards. And an individual's "bank account" within a community is always needing replenishment. Skills and tools are not always needed, but shows of courtesy, politeness, loyalty, and integrity are.
I would encourage you to strengthen the bonds you have with the people you live, work, and worship with. As I stated in my previous post, we as a nation still have many resources; we just need to learn to identify and share them better. To protect ourselves as individuals, we have to lessen our emphasis on individualism. The future will see the re-emergence of communities. If we establish them now, they will be up and running when we really need them.