Is True Self Sufficiency Achievable or Even Necessary?

What is Self Sufficiency?

True self sufficiency refers to the ability to support yourself or produce that which you need without outside help. Think of true self sufficiency as a sort of personal or collective autonomy. You rely only on your own capabilities, judgments, and resources. You are responsible for everything that you do and everything that you don’t do.

So many people talk about achieving self sufficiency, which of course has a nice romantic ring to it.  Self reliance is also a term that you will hear.  There have even been times in the history of the US when remarkable numbers of people decided to reject “the system” and go back to the land.  Many succeeded while many others failed. What made the difference?

This brings up the question of whether or not true self sufficiency is achievable. You must also ask the question of whether or not it is even possible? Or are we really aiming for self reliance?


What is Different Now?

At one point in time the entire population of the world was self sufficient. Families and small communities made their own homes and shelters, clothing, tools, boats, and weapons. Small scale farming, hunting, and gathering were necessary in order to survive. But during the last century there has been a tremendous shift away from self sufficiency.

Our societal structure is now interconnected, interdependent and supported by a vast and complicated infrastructure. Hunting, gathering, and small scale agriculture have been replaced by specialized farms. A significant portion of the population now depends on those farms for their food supply. The majority of people in developed nations depend on wages earned from a job in order to buy the things they need and want. The end result of this shift is that people and society have changed and that transformation can be problematic in many ways.


Our Present Predicament

The predicament is that our entire social infrastructure is interconnected and extremely complicated.  The average person has no real grasp of where their daily resources come from. Furthermore, no one really has any control over those resources. The typical individual is simply not prepared to go even a week without effortless access to food, water, electricity, and other essentials. To make the situation worse, the average person does not have the skills and knowledge to provide those resources for themselves even if they had no choice. 

What this means is that society as a whole is completely dependent on the infrastructure and completely dependent on someone else to provide their day to day needs. The result is that our lives are completely unbalanced because we have lost the ability to take care of ourselves.

Like it or not, when someone else is in control of your resources someone else is in control of your life.

How do we solve this dilemma? Do we shift back to complete self sufficiency, complete autonomy? Do we mimic the pioneers or do we just learn from their mistakes?


True Self Sufficiency Poses Another Problem

I would contend that true self sufficiency is just as unbalanced as modern society’s dependence on a vast infrastructure. Practicing a self sufficient lifestyle does not negate your need for the necessary tools in order to create and maintain that lifestyle. In fact, it creates even more of a need for such tools. Consider the following.

What if the engineers that developed those tools spent all of their time focusing on self sufficiency instead of developing tools? What if the doctors that you need spent all of their time being self sufficient instead of being a doctor? What if all manufacturing ceased in favor of chucking it all and heading for the hills?

What would happen is that society would not function well and it would be completely unbalanced. This also begs the question of whether or not it is possible to achieve true self sufficiency? Or are we always dependent on others and always interconnected in some way?


The True Reality of Self Sufficiency

The clear reality is that true self sufficiency would be a difficult lifestyle indeed. If you were truly responsible for taking care of every single one of your needs, your life would indeed filled with work and not much time for play. But perhaps we do not need to emulate the pioneers but simply learn from them.

It is certainly possible to be self sufficient on many levels and have a very independent lifestyle.  This way you are not completely dependent on any one thing. At least at this level of self sufficiency if one thing goes wrong in your life it is not a major disaster.

Think of it this way. Simply set up a lifestyle where you are in control of many of your daily needs.  Then depend on the larger community to provide things you cannot provide for yourself.  Then keep extra supplies around to hedge your bet against any life changing event. The end result would be a more balanced lifestyle where you had a lot more control.

After all, in our busy, cluttered society, a more balanced lifestyle is what so many of us seek. You do not have to forsake all things modern in order to accomplish that balance. Being self reliant truly means taking full responsibility for everything that you do and do not do. You need to take back control of your life. Free yourself of total dependence on the infrastructure that you cannot control much less predict.

Total dependence is just as unbalanced as living like a pioneer. They were simply trying to survive.  This is not survival, this is living. Perhaps by taking advantage of a little modern technology you can have the best of both worlds. You can obtain a high level of self sufficiency, have a simple life in pleasant surroundings, be much more independent and have more time to pursue the things you love.

Additional Posts of Interest

The Best Reasons to Live Off the Grid

The Off Grid Mindset

How to Improve Your Off Grid Skills

Go off grid and live well



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