In the area I now find myself earthquakes are not a rare occurrence. You can hear a rumble underground almost every week, light tremors occur every 3-4 months, and sizable ones are no rarer than once a year. The strongest and longest one that I have experienced was a series of earthquakes lasting two days, with a maximum magnitude of 3.7 on the Richter scale, and the epicentre was only a few tens of kilometers away from my village.
In general, it is always a good reminder to me that we are guests, not hosts, on this planet. But it is nonetheless unpleasant, especially when the tremors happen at night. Unfortunately, not all residential housing, especially that in rural areas, can withstand the shaking. However, there are very old ‘sturdy’ buildings, usually made from stone, that last for centuries without suffering significant damage. I’m currently spending the winter in such a building.
What’s the importance of this?
Spring is approaching – time to pay your taxes. It’s time to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s thereby agreeing to your own helplessness and inability to withstand the centuries-old mechanism of violence and extortion which aids not only the good deeds but also the evil.
But there is also good news (of course, it is far from ‘news’, but still). It is the fact that many countries’ tax laws allow for real estate benefits, if the size is less than the tax base. In some cases, this base is calculated by the value of the housing, and in others the size in square metres.
Old rural houses, which many progressive and cultured people are in a rush to demolish, as a rule, fall under one of two categories: either their size is smaller than the taxed norm, or their real value is less than that given by the government. So that in either case their owners have NOTHING to pay.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter how you provide for your living and food:
- if you own housing/land and have to pay property tax
- if you rent housing/land and the owner must pay property tax
- if you use housing/land for free then someone will pay tax in your place
You and your landlord can rest easy if you live in moderation and use only what you need.
Of course, this is not a measure, but rather a half-measure, aimed at ‘beginners’. Credit can be given to the system, not us. It does not exclude your tax registration or any related activities. It does not cancel the payment of other taxes (income, goods, infrastructure, etc.).
But this, as a minimum, is a realistic step towards non-participation in the mechanism of violence fueled by your own work which, amongst other things, teaches modesty and moderation. But each of the aforementioned cases has its own individual solutions so we will consider them separately.
Aren’t you scared?
This question, as a rule, is normally one of the first to be asked when people find out about my search for an exit from the surrounding world of violence and threats and moving to a simple rural area with the aim of minimising my participation in distorted social relationships which provoke fear and anger.
What can I say?
Indeed, sometimes it’s really scary and uncomfortable. For example, when there is a strong powerful storm, in a large anthill of a city each section is blocked so that you don’t notice anything, but here it pours and rumbles overhead with such force that you simply feel like a small grain of sand.
However, we are not talking about that.
Nobody wants and nobody has to place themselves at the mercy of human stupidity, greed, and arrogance. But we cannot allow ourselves to raise a hand against a person, let alone use weapons.
Are there any flaws in this solution, some kind of hypocrisy? Undoubtedly. Even doubly: we not only ensure our own safety by the use of someone else, but we also allow a living creature to possibly suffer. However there is a difference between a dog and violence.
You can lie to a person, talk to him, lull him into a false sense of security, get close without being noticed – and he simply won’t have time to be warned: he will fight or fly. But it is rather difficult to do so with a dog, it is in his nature to be ready and he always starts with a warning, then drives away the danger, and then if the situation is not resolved, attacks.
Thus, the difference isn’t in the effectiveness of one or the other method of protection; the difference is that the dog is first of all a warning, a watchman, and only then (if he has the necessary skills!) – protection:
- With a dog you will know of an approaching attacker in advance, and you will have time to make a decision or remove yourself from conflict
- The criminal will, in turn, be aware that you know of his presence, and this 50% of the time will cause him to abandon his intentions
- The dog is an intelligent animal and rarely pits itself against a threat stronger than itself
I’m predicting the following question: how can you treat a living being in such a utilitarian manner? How can you! Of course, they are firstly a friend who trusts you. And strictly speaking, I don’t expect anything special from him – the main task was to save his life because most of the puppies in his litter had already starved to death. But he is able to do something else, and this ‘something’ is one of the most important life interests, just like practically every village dog.
But most importantly… When there is nobody around for kilometres (except for several neighbours) then to count on someone or something is simply pointless, let alone on a living creature. According to urban habits, you firstly lock yourself in with a key, check the windows… Then you realise that if something were to happen only God can save you. And at night you just put the latch on the door, just like all your neighbours.
3. The Rewards of Non-violence
How quickly does the path of non-violence bring rewards? The answer: Fast enough if you have the correct tools. Let’s start with them.
What we usually imagine when it comes to non-violence needs no comment.
However, none of these methods are a tool of non-violence that allows you not to participate in the killing or maiming of people.
Now to talk about those who allow it.
One of the few questions that this journal doesn’t give an answer to is medicine (and everything associated with it). Any person, even the most healthy, will sooner or later come running back to the system of violence in order to take advantage of its fruits and results, including health care: clinics, doctors, medicine, procedures, manipulations. What can we say about an unhealthy person…
The low ceiling in the basement, the low furnace, the animal feeder – all of these little things can make rural life unbearable if you have back problems. But the most important thing (and it is also the most inconvenient) is the cultivation of land, which involves daily work in a bent or squat position, which is unanimously forbidden by surgeons and neurologists.
But a solution, as always, does exist. This is the use of the correct tools.
I, like many others, began to do all the weeding and similar work on a small bench, but in the end I found a more comfortable position: on all fours, occasionally changing hands. In other words, I’m crawling on the ground. In order to do this I needed short, homemade tools rather than long ones. In some cases it’s the opposite – instead of the traditional short tools I use longer ones in order to not bend over whilst standing up and working, creating an uneven pressure on my spine.
You can see what can be achieved in the Gallery.
This is what my path of non-violence looks like today. Already up to one third of the products on the table are from the garden. Not my own are the bread, cereals, sugar/salt, and vegetable oil. I soon hope to replace my neighbours’ honey and milk with my own.
You may be wondering what does this have to do with participating in killings? By relying less and less on other people’s work we:
- Become less dependent on the material benefits of the system of violence, learning not to take part in it either directly or indirectly.
- Stop needing what others are ready to defend with weapons and what they force us to do.
- Spend less time of other people’s lives on our own needs, leaving them with more opportunities to stop and think.
Find your tools. Reap the rewards!
P.S. Over time I realised that the best choice for agricultural work with a bad back is to look after fruit trees (or shrubs).