I’ll get straight to the point: we need to rely on each other and our households to navigate the chaos of the world.
What if 2020 is not in the rearview mirror behind us, but rather a foretaste of what is to come? What if, 50 years down the road, we aren’t talking about ‘2020’ but instead the ‘2020’s’? What are you going to do if government continues its encroachment into everyday life? What are you going to do if and when supply lines get backed up again? What is your plan for when the world falls apart?
All this talk probably sounds pretty doomsday-ish, but given the year we just went through, nothing is off the table. This is why we desperately need a recovery of the household and strong bonds between likeminded households. We need to get our households in order and we need to talk to, organize, strategize, and live life with other households.
Human beings are fragile when they are isolated and alone, and the powers that be want it that way. The state wants the ability to move and shape the world to it’s whim and it needs a society of isolated individuals that have no bonds or structure (think how moldable and squishy a bean bag is compared to a slab of granite). Even individual families can be fragile when they are on their own little islands with no interest in being in community with other families. As individuals need other individuals, so households need other households.
By focusing on the networking and interdependency of households, we really are getting back to basics as the household is the core institution of any society. What is a church but a collection of households that belong to the larger household of God (Eph. 2:19)? What is a nation or kingdom but a large household of households? This is why many Christian thinkers have regarded the 5th commandment, honoring father and mother, also applying to civil authorities.
One of the problems in our politics today is that we are all wrapped up in what happens at the national level. We care far more about who the next President is than we do about the next City Council member or County Commissioner. This tendency to look out to the biggest thing also affects how we operate day-to-day. We choose Amazon over the shop on main street and Home Depot over the local hardware store. We have essentially traded focusing on people and businesses that can’t possibly know or care about us because of their size, for people and businesses that can know and care about us because of their size.
I was recently guilty of this, so this is fresh on my mind. I bought a birthday gift for my wife the other day from Amazon. Later that day I saw almost the exact same gift from a local business advertised on Instagram run by a wife and mother. This is a woman who has poured her passion, time, and energy into this business to contribute to her household, yet I, a person who shops at the same local grocery stores, eats at the same restaurants, and probably knows a lot of the same people, shipped my dollars to a nameless, faceless corporation instead of directly into her household. We have almost lost a sense of place, localism, and rootedness.
As I’ve thought how I could benefit from other households as well as be a benefit to other households, many practical things have come to mind. For example, households can partner together by:
- Going in on a quarter, half, or whole beef cow with one or two other families
- Working on weekend projects together
- Helping each other out with childcare
- Feasting, fellowshipping, and celebrating with each other regularly
- Starting a side hustle or business together for additional income (flipping houses, lawn care during the summer, refurbishing old furniture)
- Starting a garden or greenhouse together
- Putting some cash aside each month for the sole purpose of helping families in need
- Trying to spend your money on local family business for a product, good, or service (Social media helps promote smaller businesses that are good alternatives to big box stores, but it might take a little effort to find them)
- Working on and encouraging practical skills like sewing, carpentry, vehicle maintenance, cooking, canning, home repairs, etc.
- Splitting the cost of seasonal tools or equipment such as a tractor lawn mower, rototiller, or cement mixer with another family
These are things that my household is currently doing or aspire to do someday in the near future.
I’m not advocating that we collectively raise our children or have no private property and ownership, but what I am saying is that we should learn to network and develop strong bonds between households for the mutual benefit of each family. Better to begin working on this now and strive to invest in resources beyond your own house before things really hit the fan.
For further reading on the subject of the household, I highly recommend CR Wiley’s two books, “Man of the House” and “The Household and the War for the Cosmos.”