A Social Model of Self-Sufficiency

Today I want to talk about a thing that most everyone desires and seeks, either to obtain or to maintain: self-sufficiency. Now some of you may have been taught that self-sufficiency is an unrealistic goal, but what you were probably taught is not what I mean by self-sufficiency: I don’t mean living in a hut outside society, growing all your own food, and reducing your carbon footprint (though that can be a part of it). I’m talking about being self-sufficient within society (i.e., practically). I’m focused on this because humans are highly social creatures and are dependent on one another (at the very least for reproductive and child-rearing purposes). I also see value in considering this because becoming self-sufficient, in some sense or another (like in your ability to interpret media) is one of the core aims people who come to this site seem to have.

By self-sufficiency here though, I mean the ability to produce more value than you consume, and also, and most importantly, to do so. Within this definition of self-sufficiency I recognize three time oriented parts:

A self-sufficient character (past potential) - Lessons, memories, habits, dreams, reflections, fears, the idea of rewards, and other physiological and psychological factors that shape the nature of your self.

Active Engagement (present action) – The degree to which you are productively engaged within your immediate world.

o Resources (future potential) – spiritual, physical, economic, emotional, logical.

What this model of self-sufficiency emphasizes is the importance of present action based in a strong sense of self with a focus on social development through the building up of a variety of resources, both internal and external.

Present action, or active engagement, is what brings meaning into a person’s life, as it is where experiences occur, and these experiences awaken us to the need for meaning. Another way of saying that is that experiential life occurs primarily during active engagement. Past and future potential exist in the service of one’s active engagement, which is the fount of ones social value, along with life. 

Developing self-sufficiency is a process, and the vast majority of people are, to a greater or lesser extent — based on the limitations of the society they’re born into and their own personal weaknesses – unable to rise anywhere near it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. It just means most people don’t know how to do it.

Why is this so hard for people? How can you become truly self-sufficient?

More on that another time…

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