AND MUTUAL HELP
Han Marie Stiekema Sermes
Q. In one of your earlier talks, you referred
to the damage inflicted on the Mother's "Web of Life". Could you further
elaborate on that?
A. The Web of Life is another
word for the interconnectedness of the universe: space, matter, time, gases, elements,
atoms, viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants, fishes, amphibian, reptiles, birds and mammals,
including humans. Ecology divides life in species, populations, communities and
ecosystems, as mutual interdependent realms. It is confirming the original concept of the
Q. Obviously, this Web has become disintegrated
in many ways. From the community to the family, from biodiversity to the atmosphere, from
the countryside to the city. The problem is huge. Where to lay the emphasis?
A. First of all, it is the
spiritual dimension, that has to serve as a starting point. The Web of Life is not "a
separate entity", but has its Origin in the Mother. Before we try to interfere
ourselves, we first have "to consult Her". In doing so, we will understand, that
the Web as Her creation is of utmost concern to Her, manifested by Her uninterrupted Care
for Balance. Earthly life should reflect this Her concern by doing the same.
Q. What are the consequences with regard to the
A. The illusion of
"independence" is striking. The average citizen thinks, that he or she lives a
highly individualized, "free" and independent life, while in reality, dependency
has never been to total. We know everything from the latest world news to computer
programs, from a trendy novel to the latest car, from job chances to cheap holidays, from
the latest music to the discounts of the supermarket. We live in a virtual world, in which
we totally lost contact with the basic requirements of life, though. A child of eight,
who, for the first time in his life sees a cow, for instance.
Q. People have everything they want, while not
being aware of the price, they have to pay for it.
A. People have become totally
dependent on things "from without". The centri-fugal forces of an addicted
society, has undermined the "substance" of life. The family is just a campground
for activities outside. At school, children are brainwashed to become the slaves of
technology. They know everything about the computer, but almost nothing about (daily)
life. Moreover, these dependencies are in itself highly vulnerable. Take the internet,
electricity, water supply, transportation lines, oil reserve, apart from the vulnerability
through limited resources, the pollution, climate change, nuclear energy, terrorism and
Q. This concern remains superficial though. The
population at large, doesn't seem to be that worried yet.
A. That is exactly the point.
What happens, if the population suddenly grasps in what kind of situation they are in?
This is no imagination. Any major disaster, of which many say will happen anywhere in the
future, will have dramatic consequences on communities, nations or even continents.
Needless to say, that it will be too late then. Governments are totally irresponsible in
this regard. Hence, the people themselves have to start reclaiming the substance, the
foundation of life.
Q. What do you mean by "substance?"
A. The first written account of
the value of substance (or "subsistence") goes back to the Mother inspired
"Great Learning", one of the four classics
of Confucianism. It a.o. says: "How can you rule the state, if you don't manage your
property well; how to manage your property, if you fail to taking care of your household;
how to take care of your household, if you yourself are not balanced?
Q. Is this the text your entire work is based
A. That's right. It shows the
Mother's concern for her Web of Life. Translated to our current situation, it means, that
"a good life" depends on whether one may be able to draw concentric circles from
the center to the periphery. It means to built a life on real substance. Thus, starting
with yourself, your health, your beloved, your household, your work, your garden, your
neighbors, the street, the district, the commune etc., everything should become
interrelated as an integrated whole. In order to make it work, one should reclaim
"productive activities" as part of the household.
Q. To take as much things in your own hand,
A. What has happened in the
last decades (it started much earlier) is, that people have turned from being
"subjects" into "objects". Instead of being the center of
self-generating activities, they are reduced to "consumers", targets for PR and
marketing of big business. By becoming slaves in the "labor market", you have
lost an important saying over your own life. Others exploit your creativity and
productivity, in favor of (their) profit making. It seems to give you
"security", "income" and "work satisfaction". The opposite
is true though. In fact, you are at the mercy of the whimsicalities of the
"market-economy". Today there is work, tomorrow you are jobless.
Q. How to end this situation of insecurity?
A. The community has to once
again become the foundation of productivity. It starts with the family. The family has to
agree on the fact, that the centri-fugal forces of addiction are a main factor,
responsible for its disintegration. The first measure therefore, is to cut off all
irrelevant information, that are flooding across your household. It varies from putting
away the TV, newspapers, advertising material to limiting your work on the computer.
Instead, you may re-introduce all kinds of creative activity, focusing on those, which
contribute to self-reliance. Hence, emphasis is laid on cooking, (organic) gardening
(vegetables), house repair, painting, healing, art, music, writing, weaving, computer,
machines, handicrafts and other traditional methods. Subsequently, after you have acquired
a broad basis, you turn to one or more things, that correspond to your special talents and
creativity. Eventually, you try to make these activities the starting point for
Q. This seems to be a good idea; in practice,
the revenues of the families' sales will not be high enough to pay all the costs, though.
A. First of all, it is
about turning from being an "object" into becoming a "subject". You
have to finish dependency relationships, not only with regard to the outward world, but
also within, psychologically. Doing so, an entire new source of energy will become
available. It has its impact on all members of the family. Rather than using the house as
a place of recuperation from the stress, suffered in the outside world, the home becomes a
place of inspiration and vibrant energy. The reason people get tired of working, is not
because of the work itself, but because you don't get a feedback from it. The results of
the work are not yours, that is the problem. To work on individual and community
substance, on the other hand, is highly fulfilling. The miracle is this: once you have
established a productive, meaningful and joyful life, the relationships with your
immediate surroundings change accordingly. It is the foundation of a new style self and
Q. How you persuade your
children to go along with you?
A. Promoting values like
creativity, productivity, self-reliance, cooperation, consensus etc. will sooner or later
open the eyes of your children as well. Be sure, they will compare their old and their new
lifestyle all the time. They are very well able to draw their own conclusion. A great help
will be to convince other families to do the same. Setting the example, is where it is all
Q. Summarizing: what are the steps to be taken
in order to be successful?
A. First of all, you
considerably start reducing your costs of everyday life. You try to reduce it to a
minimum. Secondly, you do only that work in the outside world, that covers these costs. In
many cases, part time work will be sufficient to bring in cash. Thirdly, women are taking
the lead here. If those conditions are met, then you may start your "subsistence
Q. Why the emphasis on women?
A. Women are the subsistence of
life. They have the overview, the experience, the motivation, the feeling, the commitment,
the right, the intelligence, the contacts, guaranteeing a prosperous course of events.
Together with all other members of the family/group, they are the basis of a new
Q. So, instead of being a bottomless pit, self
and mutual help will receive a new impulse, once the basic condition of productivity has
A. Especially "mutual
assistance" gained a bad reputation, because it was given to people, who had made
themselves totally dependent on the system. To them receiving is never enough. Although
they sometimes pretend "to give", their ultimate driving force is to rely on
others. Logically, those who tried to help, sooner or later got exhausted. Our self and
mutual help is based on people, who themselves have become productive first, though.
Mutual assistance will thus empower both parties involved.
Q. I remember, even President Roosevelt
cherished ideas like this.
A. That's right. His "New
Land" policy was very much based on "subsistence homesteading"*. There
seems to be a "Calvinist Connection" in this regard. Probably, because they feel
guilty of having given a boost to capitalism, they did something in return. Remarkable
initiatives not only coming from the US, but from a.o. Switzerland** and The
Netherlands*** as well. However, the main incentive comes from eco-feminism. Her main
representatives - Maria Mies, Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen and Claudia von Werlhof - did a
lot of theoretical work on this issue. With regard to the practical part, the "Third
World" is really most inspiring.
** Bioterra homestead organic gardening.*** A. Kuyper's "Self-sovereignty on all
levels of society".
Q. And for you personally, are you planning to
go into "subsistence homeworking?"
A. Through my work I am
praising the Great Mother, as the Source of the subsistence of the entire universe,
That we may do everything to
cooperate with Her in healing Her Web of Life.
Her Web of Life, it is us.
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