Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Considering Easter

It is a time that millions of people the world over look forward to – the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.  What day is that, you ask?  Easter, the day (and season) that Christians worldwide commemorate the trial, death, and resurrection from the dead of Jesus.

I grew up in a Catholic family, going to a Catholic school, and know well the Easter motif, beginning with the “giving something up” for Lent, Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey (in fulfillment of scriptures), and then turned over the tables of the vendors.  He was still invited to speak in the Temple, but the Temple authorities considered him an upstart, someone who seemed to know “the Truth” in a way that they had forgotten, a man who didn’t have the Temple training and no formal training to become a Rabbi, and yet, there he was, attracting crowds, purporting to heal, innocent, seeming to know the answers to life’s deepest questions.

His trial and death were almost predictable, as most societies do not like the rabble-rousers among them.  Especially, the “leaders” do not like such persons, and  they act quick to dispose of them.  Witness such other notables as Socrates, Pythagoras, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Sitting Bull, Wovoka,  Musashi, Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm  X, Pope John Paul the first.  I am  not necessarily putting these individuals (and the hundreds more like them) on the par with Jesus, but it is clear that a down-ward looking society takes offence with anyone who looks to the heavens.

Every Easter I have enjoyed the inspiring messages that movie-makers have given us in their efforts to interpret the practical meaning of the Jesus message. I have particularly liked the over six hour presentation of “Jesus of Nazareth” produced by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Robert Powell as Jesus. It is a rare presentation that brings the story alive, and takes it out of the pages of dry church reading.  You cannot help but cry, and laugh, often when viewing this unique presentation.  I have kept a Bible (Lamsa translation) handy when viewing this, to see how well Zeffirelli brought alive these ancient writings. You will likely agree that he did a great job. Actor Robert Powell said once in an interview that this role “changed my life.” Indeed.

I have also enjoyed the movie version of the play “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  Though full of deliberate anachronisms, it still manages to penetrate into the dynamics of what was going on in the people around Jesus.  I do not consider this presentation in any way profane, and find it to be a valuable tool for understanding certain aspects of the Christian message.

Though too many of us have gotten lost in the pre-Christian “Easter” symbolisms of eggs, bunnies, chocolate, etc., it is still worth fighting to realize that there is still a real story here, about someone who worked hard, was ridiculed, laughed at, even killed, in order to  help us to save ourselves.

I have chosen to see the Easter story as a pattern that each of us should find and follow in our own lives. And are there other stories out there which show this pattern in the so-called secular world?

Movie-makers have given us many such stories, but we don’t always see them for what they are.  If we consider the themes of the Easter story – humble birth, hard work, trying to rise above mundanity, showing The Way to others, some sort of “death,” and rising up again – then there are some excellent movies that give us this tale.

For example, you can’t go wrong with the classic “Whale Rider”.  If you’ve not seen it, get it immediately.  The grandfather of the  traditional village is hoping for a grandson to carry on the ways.  A girl is born, and grandpa figures he’ll  have to wait some more.  But the girl is “the one.”  She persists in  her path of learning the  traditional ways.  And when a test is given to the boys to see which one will become the new spiritual leader, the girl nearly dies, but passes the test.  She is the one.  You have to see it, and feel it, and experience that Saviorness can occur at any time, anywhere.  Of course, there are certain requirements, but the chief among them is the willingness and desire to do the work required, and then doing that work.

“Powder” is another good movie that somewhat depicts the elements of the Easter theme, though not precisely.  It’s still worth watching to see how most of us treat our fellow man.

Even “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart – so often shown at Christmas – probably more accurately can be said to depict the Easter theme.  Stewart worked hard to make life better for his fellow man, while living a humble life and not always getting the material things he would have liked.  All the while Mr. Potter greedily plans to take over the town. And Stewart “dies” in the river, gets to see what his world would be without him, and he is then brought back to carry on.  In this case, Stewart is not crucified in the end, but is recognized for his good deeds.

Yes, some of you who will read your Encyclopedia today will learn about the pre-Christian roots of Easter.  There is no denying that the Holy Day, as practiced generally today, has so-called pagan roots. So what?  You can still observe this day and find the way to use the major themes for your personal upliftment, and for the upliftment of those around you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Search of the Real St. Patrick

[WTI will be discussing some of these topics this Sunday, 9:30 a.m., in their outdoor amphitheatre at 5835 Burwood Ave., Highland Park, at the Spiritual Studies. Donation requested.  Call Prudence at 323 620 4720 if you have questions or email Christopher]

Who was Saint Patrick?  Really, who was he?  Not the mythological story we tell to our children each March 17 in sing-song voices: "Saint Patrick wore a green suit, talked to leprechans (he was probably drunk at the time), and while trying to convert the pagans with a shamrock, he marched all the snakes out of Ireland."  Will the real Saint Patrick please stand up?

His real name was Maewyn Succat, born around 385 A.D., somewhere in Scotland, or possibly somewhere else, as there is conflicting historical data on his exact date and place of birth.   His baptismal name was Patricius. 

Around age 16, he was sold into slavery in Ireland and worked for the next 6 years as a shepherd.  Keep in mind that human slavery, as well as human sacrifice, was considered normal for those times.

After his six years in slavery, he believed that an angel came to him in a dream, prompting him to escape and seek out his homeland.  He actually walked about 200 miles to the coast, where his dream indicated a ship would also be waiting for him.  He successfully escaped, and spent the next twenty years of his life as a monk in Marmoutier Abbey. There he again received a celestial visitation, this time calling him to return to the land where he’d been enslaved, though now with a mission as a priest and converter.

Patrick was called to Rome in 432, where Pope Celestine bequeathed the honour of Bishop upon him before he left on his mission.

Patrick returned to Ireland not alone, but with 24 supporters and  followers.  They arrived in Ireland in the winter of 432.  In the Spring, Patrick decided to confront the high King of Tara, the most powerful King in Ireland. Patrick knew that if he had the King's support, he would be free to take his Christian message to the people of Ireland.

Patrick and his followers were invited to Tara by the King of Laoghaire. It was there that he was said to have plucked a shamrock from the ground as he tried to explain to the Druids and the King that the shamrock had three leaves just like the idea of God’s   three aspects - The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. This was called the Trinity. 

Of course, triads and trinities were a common concept among the Druids.  In fact, one could argue that the trinity (a term not found in the Bible) was a concept given to Christianity by the Druids, rather than the other way around.  Nevertheless,  King Laoghaire was very impressed and chose to accept Christianity. He also gave Patrick the freedom to spread Christianity throughout Ireland.

When Patrick returned to Ireland, he treated the "pagans" with the respect implicit in his dream. Part of this respect was attempting to communicate with the Druids on their terms, which is why he used the shamrock as a teaching tool.  He also blended the Christian cross with the circle to create what is now known as the Celtic cross.  He used bonfires to celebrate Easter, a Holy Day that Christianity supplanted with the already-existing spring equinox commemoration. In fact, he incorporated many of the existing symbols and beliefs into his Christian teachings.

He spent his last 30 years in Ireland, baptizing the non-Christian Irish, ordaining priests, and founding churches and monasteries. His persuasive powers must have been astounding, since Ireland fully converted to Christianity within 200 years and was the only country in Europe to Christianize peacefully. Patrick's Christian conversion ended slavery, human sacrifice, and most intertribal warfare in Ireland.

Patrick was also unique in that he equally valued the role of women in an age when the church ignored them. He always sided with the downtrodden and the excluded, whether they were slaves or the “pagan” Irish.

According to Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization, Patrick's influence extended far beyond his adopted land. Cahill's book, which could just as well be titled How St. Patrick Saved Civilization, contends that Patrick's conversion of Ireland allowed Western learning to survive the Dark Ages. Ireland pacified and churchified as the rest of Europe crumbled. Patrick's monasteries copied and preserved classical texts. Later, Irish monks returned this knowledge to Europe by establishing monasteries in England, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy.

When the lights went out all over Europe, a candle still burned in Ireland. That candle was lit by Patrick.

Veneration of Patrick gradually assumed the status of a local cult.  He was not simply remembered in Saul and Downpatrick, he was worshipped. Indeed, homage to Patrick as Ireland's saint was apparent in the eight century AD. At this time Patrick's status as a national apostle was made independently of Rome.  He was claimed locally as a saint before the practice of canonization was introduced by the Vatican. The high regard in which the Irish have held St Patrick is evidenced by the salutation, still common today, of "May God, Mary, and Patrick bless you".

Patrick was not Irish, had nothing to do with leprechauns, almost certainly was not a drunkard, and didn't drive all the snakes out of Ireland.  In fact, there were no native snakes in Ireland, though this story is believed to be an analogy for driving out the so-called “pagans,” or, at least, the pagan religions.

Patrick was one of the "greats" of history who nearly single-handedly preserved the best of Western culture when much of Europe was devolving into chaos and ruin.  He deserves far better than remembering him in the silly ways we do today, such as wearing green, pinching each other, and getting drunk.  Rather, he deserves an accurate memory, and our emulation.  Unfortunately, like all true Saviors of history, they are either killed off, or relegated to the closet of ridicule. 

Perhaps it's time for all of us to re-think how we commemorate this special man, and his vast contribution to world culture.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Daylight Savings Time -- UGH!

Why has government imposed more weeks of this useless relic from the past?
 Let’s return to Standard Time All Year!

Our lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, have once again chosen to tinker with time.  Manipulate the clocks and we can trick the people into saving energy.  And twice a year, we are all subject to the changes and inconveniences that occur as a result of the springing forward or falling back.  We have to quickly adjust.  It is part of our annual ritual, our relic from the past, where we go back to standard time from  daylight savings time.  And now we are expected to extend this “better” time a few more weeks.

But are there real and tangible benefits from doing this?  Must  we continue to do so?

Daylight savings time is a manipulation of the basic solar time within each time zone’s standard.  It was said to be an idea of Benjamin Franklin, and was begun in the United States during world wars one and two, and eventually became “official” in all but two states. That right!  At least two states have said “No, thanks, we’ll stick to standard time.”

Indeed, daylight savings time is like a quaint tradition of a bygone era that refuses to die.  It is a pointless habit with little recognizable merit.  Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time,” demonstrates that the clock-change saves energy in theory only, but not in practice.

David Letterman once asked the question to his audience during his monologue: “Why do we practice daylight savings time?  It’s so the farmers have more light,” he laughed, answering his own question.  “But how does that give the plants more light?”  That’s a Letterman joke for you, but there is a truth hidden under his humor.  Most people queried on the street don’t know why we have daylight savings time, and fewer still experience any tangible benefits from it.

There are two often-cited reasons for the use of daylight savings time.  One is so that the children can have more light going to school in the morning.  But consider:  the  children have an hour more of morning light in late October, when the clock is set back (“fall back”) to standard time.  That is, it is the very use of daylight savings time which creates a darker morning as the days get shorter and shorter.  The “falling back” an hour merely puts us back in sync with the local time zone.  It is the use of daylight savings time that created the problem of less light in the morning, and only in that sense can you say that the “falling back” to regular time gives children that extra hour of light.  In other words, this is a problem caused by daylight savings time.  This is not a bonafide benefit from daylight savings time.

Another commonly cited reason for the use of daylight savings time is so there is more usable light in the afternoons and evenings of the summertime, presumably so that farmers can work outside longer, and so that citydwellers (world war II era) can work around the house longer without consuming electricity.  Downing argues that more light in the evening (via daylight savings time) means people do more outside and burn more gasoline, with no tangible net reduction in fuels.

My grandfather, and all my uncles on my mother’s side were farmers.  I have some knowledge of the schedule of farmers.  There is not one that I know who does not arise at the crack of dawn, if not sooner.  There is no other way to function as a farmer.  You then proceed to work as long as needed, and as long as you are able, daylight savings time or standard time.  The manipulation of clocks in no way affected how much work they got done, or not done. 

I have talked to many people about daylight savings time. Some like it, some do not. Some are annoyed by it, some find the long afternoons of summer very enjoyable.  Everyone has arrived late (or early) on the first Sunday (even Monday in some cases) after the changing of the clocks.  Daylight savings time thus gives millions of people a quasi-valid excuse for lateness at least once a year.

I have never talked to, heard or, or met a single person who has declared that the implementation of daylight savings time was somehow critical or important to their lifestyle, livelihood, or business.  Not one!  Thus, from where does the pressure arise to keep and maintain this “white elephant”?

We all utilize the never-ending cycling of hours as a gauge to our life’s activities.  We get accustomed to certain patterns and rhythms.  I have found that my body tends to arise at the same “time,” whether the clock reads standard or daylight savings time.  This means I typically arise an hour earlier during daylight savings time. But since none of us live in a vacuum, there is always the necessity to “re-adjust” after each changing of the clocks so that our natural rhythms are then re-aligned with the legal time.  It takes some people two or three days for this psychological and physical adjustment.  Is this really necessary?

Let’s end daylight savings time entirely and adopt a year-round standard time.

Those who wish to start school or go to work earlier can do so!  Such voluntary time alterations are fine if those individuals and businesses choose to do so. It may even make the freeways less crowded at rush hours.  But keep the standard time year-round.

Yes, this is a small thing in the context of a world at war, with hate and suspicion in all political camps, and endless economic hardships all over the world.  In that big-picture sense, this is just a little issue.  But this is still an issue that should be resolved, and dealt with.

Let’s end daylight savings time as a pointless relic of the past that has out-lived its usefulness.  How can we all work together to bring our clocks back into sync with standard time?

Since daylight savings time is a state-by-state decision, we can begin with California. Write to Governor Brown and ask him to implement year-round standard time. You can write to him at Office of the Governor, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, or phone at 916) 445-2841, or on-line at www.govmail.ca.gov.

Take a poll of your friends and acquaintances before you write to the Governor.  See if you can find anyone who derives tangible benefits from daylight savings time.  Secondly, there is always the initiative process where a Proposition can be put on the ballot to be voted on by the people. 

Friday, March 08, 2013

Thinking about Euell Gibbons...

Has it been that long already?  In 1974, a strange man entered America’s consciousness via television.  Acting out what seemed to be primitive rites, he would brandish cattails, goldenrod, hickory nuts, and pine branches, instructing the viewers that “many parts are edible, you know.”

Euell Gibbons rapidly became fodder for comedians who turned his “Stalking the Wild ...” book titles into the comedy cliché of the year.  But, in the summer of 1975, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Gibbons’ commercials for Post Grape-Nuts cereal off the air, and, by the time he died on December 29 of 1975, Gibbons’ celebrity had diminished considerably.

That was a shame, for Gibbons did have a valuable message for America:  There are tons of wild, nutritious food growing everywhere in this country that we could -- but don’t -- eat.  Gibbons believed that the main reason that Americans shun wild food is fear of ridicule if they stoop to gather weeds, which are generally regarded as suitable only for the trash can, not the dinner table.

The FTC ruling appeared to speak to a deeper fear:  fear of the unknown.  In the cereal commercials, Gibbons spoke of his years of foraging for wild food.  “Ever eat a pine tree?” he asked in one spot.  “Many parts are edible.  Natural ingredients are important to me.  That’s why Post Grape-Nuts is part of my breakfast.”

The FTC objected to the apparent connection, especially as it might be interpreted by children.  The ruling said that the commercials “undercut a commonly recognized safety principle -- namely, that children should not eat any plants found growing in natural surroundings, except under adult supervision.”

Despite its good intentions, the FTC succeeded in generating a great wave of mistrust and fear of all wild food, despite the fact that Gibbons stressed in his books and countless public appearances that you much never eat any plant or part of a plant until you recognize it as edible.  Shortly after the FTC ruling, the media latched onto two incidents in which teen-agers who had been captivated by Gibbons’ living-off-the-land philosophy became ill when they mistakenly ate toxic plants while foraging near the Angeles National Forest.

Gibbons’ death of unspecified “natural causes” at the age of 64 seemed to seal his reputation as a “kook.”  At worst, people suspected that he had accidentally poisoned himself (he hadn’t); at best, it appeared that eating “natural” foods did not contribute to longevity.  But those of us who saw the real value of Gibbons’ teachings still feel that he left us with a precious legacy.

I first encountered Gibbons in 1972, through his writings.  Excited and fascinated by “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” and his other books, I explored fields and woods across the country in search of wild edibles.  In 1974, I began to share what I had learned by conducting Wild Food Outings in the Los Angeles area.

I finally met Gibbons after he gave a lecture at Pasadena City College.  We chatted for the better part of an hour, our conversation ranging from carob pods to American Indians to compost.  He told me of his plans for television documentaries about primitive societies that still live totally ecological lives.  Gibbons said he hoped to show the modern world some of the follies of civilization.

One of these follies is the persistence -- the expenditure of so much time and money -- in attempting to eradicate from our yards and parks plants that have thrived for centuries.  Some of the most common edible “intruders” are dandelion, lamb’s quarter, pigweed, mallow, mustard, and sow thistle.  Among the most enduring of wild plants that were brought to California in the westward migrations is chickweed.  To even the most pampered palate, it is an incredibly good salad green, yet it often leads the list of “garden pests” in advertisements for herbicides.   Other “enemies” highly valued by herbalists and naturalists are wild garlic, plantain, purslane, French sorrel, sour grass, and ground ivy.

Many of the common wild plants have been used for centuries as herbal medicine, and still have value for simple ailments.  But, like any medicinal ingredient, they can be harmful when abused.  In 1976, jimsonweed, which has been in California for probably thousands of years, became the target of an eradication program when some people erroneously popularized it as a cheap “high.”  This was a typical case of ignorance about wild food that could be countered by some basic education rather than by the wholesale application of herbicides across our countryside.

So, while many people regarded the natural foods “craze” as a passing fad, others found much that is worthwhile in what Gibbons brought to the national attention.  I know I do.  Gibbons was just passing along something that our ancestors knew, something that is still a deeply respected tradition in many parts of even the “civilized” world where scarce food is more prized than ornamental gardens.  Despite the ridicule of passersby, on almost any day in almost any park right here in the city, people still gather berries, cactus, mustard greens, chickweed, and wild mushrooms.  These wild foods are there for the taking -- foods that grow in relative abundance and that are much better for you than a lot of the processed junk sold in supermarkets.

Euell Gibbons and his many adherents warrant our admiration, not our mockery.

[Since 1974, Nyerges has led outings and classes to identify  and use wild edibles.  To learn about these classes, contact the School of  Self-reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.ChristopherNyerges.com]

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Death Seminars

Dolores (who died in 2008) and I were active students of metaphysics, mostly through our association with WTI’s Spiritual Studies classes.  We spent a lot of time studying Harold Percival’s “Thinking and Destiny,” and other books such as Fromme’s “Art of Loving” and Hayakawa’s “Language in Thought and Action.” 

By the early 1990s, we began to conduct weekly study sessions and classes in our home, mostly readings from “Thinking and Destiny” on Sunday afternoons. 

One night, we offered a class called “What Happens After Death.”  About 10 people showed up for this one, which was a large gathering for our small meeting room. 

We began by telling everyone that this was not some sort of religious exercise, nor was anyone required to “agree with” or “believe” anything we were telling them. Rather, we simply asked that they consider the scenario that we’d be sharing as a possibility, and that we would not consider “arguments” or “debates” about it.  In other words, something does “happen” to us after our body dies.  This “something” can range from “nothing” to reincarnation to “going to hell” and many other possibilities. 

Our class was based on Harold Percival’s “Thinking and Destiny” book. So a brief explanation about Percival was required.  He claimed in the preface to his monumental “Thinking and Destiny” book that he “came to” the information that he shares by means of what he calls “Real Thinking.”  He further defines “Real Thinking” as a four-part process. The first step is the selection of a topic and turning the Conscious Light on it.  (The Nature of Conscious Light is addressed repeatedly in his book).  Next comes the fixing and cleansing of the subject, which is done by training the Light upon it.  Then, the third step is to reduce the subject to a point, which is done by focusing Light upon it.  This is what we would call "concentrating.”  Lastly, by following this procedure, with the Light focused on the point, the result of this Thinking is a “Knowing” about the subject.

He provides no bibliography, no references, no “proofs” for anything he proffers except that the reader can do his or her own Real Thinking for verification. 

Upon body death, according to Percival, we “automatically” go through a series of steps, which he initially describes as a brief overview on pages 240 to 253.  He describes a specific order of 12 events, which includes a life-review, a judgement, a heaven-state, etc.  

So, the purpose of our “What Happens After Death” class was to emphasize that all of us WILL die, and that “something” WILL then occur or begin, even if that something is “nothingness.”

After our brief explanation, we asked each participant to lie on our floor. 

“Now you have just died,” we announced, and we covered each person with a sheet to further simulate the death experience.  We then read through the after-death stages, one by one, slowly, in the darkened room, asked each participant to work hard to fully feel the experience.

Talking through this process took about 45 minutes.

Then, we got through the entire cycle, and explained that these steps could actually take several hundred years of earth time.  Then it would be time for being reborn into a suitable and appropriate family, in the place on earth that we’ve earned for ourselves.

We turned on the lights, and removed the sheets, and let everyone take a few minutes to get their eyes adjusted to the light.  Slowly, each person opened their eyes and slowly got up, and sat down in a chair.

We began to share significant experiences that each person had.  A few folks were very quiet and would not talk at all, but others were very talkative.  Some were even in tears.

We closed the class by telling everyone that they had not died tonight, and that everyone now has a “new opportunity” to still “do the right things” since they were still alive in a body.

We shared some freshly-made coffee-elixir and healthful cookies, and we discussed a few of the upcoming classes and poetry readings that we’d be having in the coming weeks.  But no one seemed interested in our announcements.  Most everyone was strongly affected by the experience, and they wanted to ask more questions, which we tried to answer.  As usual, we didn’t feel like the most perfect examples in the world, but we knew that “the future” is all the result of each and every choice that we make, second by second, and the consequences of those choices.  To make the wisest possible choices every second of one’s entire life required a unique sort of sobriety and focus which itself required a unique lifestyle regimen to maintain – and, of course, those details were the subjects of our on-going classes.

[This is based upon a section of Nyerges’ “Til Death Do Us Part?” available on Kindle, or from www.ChristopherNyerges.com].

Friday, March 01, 2013

Living with Less Water

           For a week, residents of Pasadena were asked to do no outdoor watering. This was not because of a drought, or because there are too many of us residing here for the available water. This was because a major regional water pipeline needed repair, and it had to be shut down to make the repairs.

Nevertheless, water is a scarce commodity when you have so many people wanting so much, living here in a coastal desert plain. It’s wise to practice water conservation all the time, and work such water conservation practices into our automatic lifestyle.

The week’s outside water use ban had very little impact on me.  For one, I no longer have a large outdoor yard with lots of flora to maintain, though I do raise some of my food.  Also, except when I lived with my parents, I have never maintained a front lawn.  When living at home, the upkeep and reseeding and fertilizing and watering of the front lawn was one of my father’s rites of spring.  It was a ritual that my brothers and I were all expected to participate in.  Interestingly, with all that focus on the lawn, we were not even allowed to walk on the lawn because  – and yes, this is what my father told us – it would appear that someone walked on the lawn!

Still, about 50 years later, most residents here in Southern California have the same fixation about maintaining a grass lawn.  It is, in many areas, a status symbol.  You will not be regarded as a “good neighbor” if you do not maintain your lawn to the neighborhood standard.  You might even be accused – as I was on several occasions – of bringing down the property values of the neighborhood by not maintaining the status quo. Little wonder we spend so much time, money, water, and energy to maintain the green grass.

When I did my usual early morning neighborhood walk on March 1, when the Pasadena watering ban apparently expired, I saw many front lawns with sprinklers flowing, and water running down the sidewalk and curb.  It was as if these folks could not wait to get the green back into the lawn.

I am well aware of the effect of peer pressure and the value that so many place on “appearances.”  Still, there are a few of my neighbors who have eschewed green lawns and instead have beautiful front yard areas full of river rocks, succulents, and various drought-tolerant bushes and vines.  These yards are a pleasure to look at, and they tend to be places that support the lives of the “little fauna” – butterflies, insects, bees, ladybugs.

           In a few cases, I see attractively arranged food-producing front yards, with fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs, well mulched to maintain water.

Living in the desert needed be a chore, nor is there a need to shake your fist at the water companies or local government.  We chose to live here. It’s a desert.  We can choose to live a water-wise life-style here in the desert, or we can attempt to continue to “conquer nature.”  The latter choice is not sustainable into the future.

There are many, many ways to live with less water, and use water more wisely. Many of these methods have been widely publicized n the last few decades.  I’ve included many in two of my books, “Extreme Simplicity” (2000), and more recently, “Self-Sufficient Home (2009),” where I shared the stories of people who took action on their own, without waiting for “government,” and without loans or assistance. I describe local residents who’ve figured out how to collect rainwater and use it on their properties to water the fruit trees and other flora.  I’ve described those who have purchased or made composting toilets and learned to use them safely and hygienically.

In my “Extreme Simplicity” book, I describe how I have taken the dish water from the kitchen – as my mother did her entire life – and pour the used dish water outside on the kitchen garden.  Yes, this requires buying dish detergents that are not harmful to the garden.

There are many ways to save water, including – where possible – re-routing your household water, minus the toilet, so that the used water flows into your yard and garden. This is called grey water, and in most cases it is easy to do, wise to do, and illegal.  Illegal to direct your used water into the  yard, especially here in this desert?  Yes, because city ordinances and Building & Safety departments recognize that not everyone do these water-wise practices in a way that’s both clean, and disease-free.  No one wants a neighbor who breeds mosquitoes for the neighborhood.  Yet, it is not “rocket science” to use grey water in the yard.  Local government needs to recognize that this is a positive wave for the future, and they should find the ways to assist homeowners to do this easily, safely, and inexpensively.

Still, if we are to “save ourselves” from our own pollution and over-population, it will come from the grass-roots efforts of those who deeply desire to be a part of the solution.  And there are plenty of positive signs today, from the voluntary simplicity movement, to the backyard urban farmers which are now all the rage.  It is from these new pioneers that this silent revolution is taking place, which can provide living solutions to the many problems facing us today, including our ongoing water shortages.