Commentary: Living Off The Grid – By By Mosa Telford

  Stabroek News – By By

We exist in a harsh environment not because of the heat or cold or shrubs or stones, but because we are trapped by the system. Life is fleeting and the time we are given should be spent growing and living comfortably. Throughout our lives we should be acquiring knowledge, becoming wiser and enjoying the best of health. Living should not mean being constantly in pain, fear and stress.

I saw a meme that said, “We are really on a rock paying bills.”

And in response, someone wrote “The rock gave us everything we needed to survive for free, but we decided to create money and bills.”       

Is it possible to survive now for free? There are people who have had little or no contact with the outside world. The Sentinelese are an uncontacted tribe. They live on North Sentinal Island in the Indian Ocean. They resist contact with the outside world and will kill anyone who tries to invade their space. Neighbouring island people were exterminated when the British colonized their islands. It is another example of how colonization destroyed people and their culture. Because the Sentinelese are isolated, any contact with the outside world could mean an introduction of diseases that would threaten their existence. Many will describe these people as barbaric or primitive, but in many ways, they are fortunate.

I pondered what it would be like to live off the grid – to find an island where one would be removed from the system. Imagine the freedom of growing one’s organic food and free-range livestock. This harsh environment in which we exist is not only harsh on us; it has become the norm to imprison livestock, who we keep in confined spaces and inject with steroid hormones for them to grow faster and produce more milk, meat and eggs. And after we have reared them outside the natural order, we ingest the trauma in their flesh.

I thought about drinking from cool uncontaminated rivers and creeks. Our waters are contaminated because of the mining industry, the oil industry and other waste. In cleaner waters the marine life would also be plentiful and uncontaminated, and we could eat to live. Largely, now, our water must be purified. We pay to safely drink in a land of many waters.

I thought about the medicine we are given. What if we existed in a society where natural healers would be seen as important as medical professionals?

Mama Fiffee, a Buxtonian who died in 2004 at the age of 100 was a natural healer whose traditional medicines have been praised countrywide. Her daughter, Gloria Vasconcellos, continues her work. But often, people born with the gift of healing are stigmatized.

What if we lived where studying and knowing which the plants could heal us was not an anomaly? Though, there are those who trust natural healers, we are largely stuck in the system of pills and injections, which often do not heal us and are temporary solutions that  often cause a plethora of side effects. Why do we accept that the pharmaceutical industry is incapable of creating cures and medicines that do not cause side effects? Why are we so comfortable with adverse effects in hopes of fixing another issue? Isn’t a crime against humanity to keep people sick for profit?

Often, herbs and other natural methods are suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry. Marijuana, for example, is said to cause harm and is, therefore, illegal in many places, including Guyana. The abuse of anything in this world can cause harm, I agree, but marijuana has medicinal purposes. The point has often been made that cigarettes and alcohol are legal but cause more harm than marijuana.

Imagine how it would be to escape all forms of pollution, to be unharmed by radiation, and where breathing the air will not slowly kill us because of gas emissions and other environmental health hazards. Instead, breathing would energize us and make us smile because we are happy to be alive

I thought about how wonderful it would be to not have to wake every day and worry about getting to work on time or to be stuck in traffic jams. How it would be to never lose sleep over deadlines or to be in a constant state of angst.

How revolutionary it would it be to free ourselves from the banking system—a banking system that in Guyana discriminates. We point out racism when people use racial terms or paint offensive pictures, but the deeper effect of racism is the system that has the power to oppress and stymie one’s progress. Imagine a life where we are not drowning in debt and are not constantly being charged fees some of us are not even aware of.

How would the world be if these systems did not exist? Why do we choose to comply with this harsh system, which leaves some of us never fully realising our dreams before we are old and wrinkled? We have been sold to the system from birth. Babies are placed in the arms of doctors, who from their first breath begin the process of baptising them into the system. Our names are placed on birth certificates and the state partly owns us and throughout our lives the system traps us. We go through the school system, learning what they want us to know; often leaving without the knowledge of the life skills we need to know. And then we get a job or build a career and settle into a routine. Some of us make money that affords us what are seen as luxuries of this system while others struggle until society forgets they exist, and they die. Can you believe that a man can have billions of dollars and in his spare time travel to space, while another begs in the street for a penny?

In Guyana, the inconveniences can make living in this harsh society worse. Our peace is penetrated by feelings of anger and frustration as we grapple with issues around electricity, water, telephone and internet services. People are having sleepless nights because of the cost of living.  As the meme said, we were given everything we need to live for free, but we created bills and money. These everyday frustrations affect our health and no doubt our lifespan. We may all be trapped by the system, and it may be impossible to live off the grid, but we can try.

Now more than ever the importance of growing food is being felt in Guyana with the unusual prices for vegetables and fruits. Perhaps we can start with that. In our little spaces we can grow something to eat, free of fertilizers and genetic modifications, and perhaps it will offer us just a little escape and a glimpse of what life was meant to be.

Our present story as people is sad. We are panicking in a pandemic where there is no end in sight. And still, many are living to work and pay bills and will die before the world notices them or values them. Harsh.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 08/08/2021 at 3:50 pm

    Excellent article by Mosa Telford. We humans have created our own very special Hell on Planet Earth.

  • wally n  On 08/08/2021 at 4:24 pm

    Mostly common sense, but, we created the evil monsters, by choosing weak and crooked Governments, responsible for allowing a lot of the preventable problems just to get rich.
    I totally agree with “Growing Food”, remember when Guyana was going through hell, small farms and Gardens were our saviors, and that is why I think Guyana should expand Agriculture, which could be the savior of the Caribbean also.
    I am glad I experienced some of the science that was taught and practiced in a modern Country, maybe because I spent some of my youth in the “bushes” of Wismar and Linden, so been there.

  • Francis Quamina Farrier  On 08/08/2021 at 5:14 pm

    Dear Mr. Wally; like myself, you are caught in the slips … sometimes. So here we go; Dear Sir. Geography/Social Studies Class begins ; Wismar is one of the three wards of the town of Linden, which is located some 65 miles south from the capital, Georgetown, and which, when he was a youthman, and before the highway was constructed by President Forbes Burnham, Uncle Francis undertook a solo three-day trek from Georgetown, through the forest, to Mackenzie. Linden, which is named for President Burnham, is made-up of three wards – Christianburg, Mackenzie and Wismar. Mackenzie is on the eastern bank of the Demerara river, and Christianburg and Wismar are on western bank. We also need to know that Linden is the only town in Guyana in which a large river runs through it. Linden is also the only town in Guyana with such a high elevation – Blueberry Hill – and has so much sand. Linden is the second largest town in Guyana and also has man-made lakes in it. Meh only hope dat Teacher Francis ain’t mek no mistake in today class, ‘case duh would be a big embarrassment. A’rite, Class done; time fo’ go home. BTW, Ah forget fo’ seh dat Teacher Francis once swam across the Demerara river … from Wismar to Mackenzie. And back in the 1940s to 1970s, plenty men from Buxton worked at DEMBA. Aaaah! Teacher Francis got a mind that Mss. Mosa, the most beautiful lady in Buxton, din know all a dat. lol.

  • wally n  On 08/08/2021 at 5:43 pm

    Well….thanks fo nuttin… was in Mackenzie as a young kid, before the highway was a dream. Mo bush than house and road. Swimming the Demerara, swam it many times NAKED, going to school St Aidans, boat owners would check to see if parents had an account, I was poor never had, so I would give my clothes and books to my friend, swim from outside the school to Speightland if the tide was falling, if tide was rising I would walk down with my buddy pass Speightland then plunge in, I never even thought of Piranhas so dumb.
    My point which I obviously failed to make was…Experienced hard life, poor life, natural life,this today is much better.
    Buxton eh…ha half of my family came from Buxton, but I am sure you spent more time there. That I give you.

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